While doing research into a question about the Aztec and Mayan peoples I found an article from the official web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which suggests that Jesus appeared to people of Jewish descent in the American continents:

“Jesus spent His mortal life near Jerusalem, teaching the Jews of His gospel. However, Jesus also taught people of Jewish descent in another land: the American continents... The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture that details God’s teachings to people who lived in the Americas from about 600 BC to AD 400.” Source: https://www.comeuntochrist.org/blog/what-jesus-christs-visit-to-the-americas-means-to-us

According to the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ had twelve Nephite disciples. Apparently, Jesus visited the New World after his death and resurrection. Moroni was the last Nephite prophet, historian, and military commander who supposedly lived in the Americas in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. He is later known as the Angel Moroni.

History records how Christianity was brought to the Aztecs and Mayans by the Spanish conquistadors after 1517. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_colonization_of_the_Americas

But is there any evidence that people of Jewish descent came to the Americas before then or that Jesus Christ brought the gospel to native peoples living in the Americas?

EDIT: Regarding the article on archaeological evidence to support the events recorded in the Book of Mormon, although the question (and the answer) is interesting, it does not answer my question.

I am inclined to agree with the conclusion by Mason Wheeler that “a large corpus of evidence exists which, while not enough to conclusively prove the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon... definitely demonstrates that the book is worthy of serious attention and consideration.”

However, I disagree with his assertion that “(they haven't even managed to do that with the Bible, so it would be unfair to hold another work that claims to be scripture to such a high standard).” What’s good enough to support the truthfulness of the Bible is good enough to support the truthfulness in the Book of Mormon, but archaeology is not the proof I seek.

What evidence is there to support the claim that Jesus "taught people of Jewish descent in another land: the American continents"?

  • 1
    You can't ask for views from both LDS and Trinitarian - one side will say there is evidence, the other will say its all absolute nonsense.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 12:31
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    Well, if you ask a Latter-day Saint, they'll tell you that the Book of Mormon itself is the evidence -- however, it is up to the reader (or asker) to seek a spiritual witness of its truthfulness if you are going to believe that. I would post this as an answer but I suspect it's not what you are going for.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 16:15
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    @Matt – Initially I invited responses from both LDS and from Trinitarian Christians but curiousdannii said I can’t ask for views from both LDS and Trinitarian. I guess what’s to be avoided are opinions. The Acts of the Apostles describes how the gospel was spread throughout the world, but is silent on any mention of Christ or his followers having settled in the Americas either pre or post resurrection. I was hopeful that this subject had been addressed by reputable Bible scholars.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 16:53
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    Possible duplicate of What is the archaeological evidence for the events in the Book of Mormon?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 22:28
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    @Matt - Yes, your answer to that question was interesting. But I disagree with what you said: “the Bible, as we have it today, is not complete”... and the only way to truly believe in the Book of Mormon and its truthfulness is “by reading it and praying to ask God if it is true, and that an answer will come by the Holy Ghost.” I prefer what curiousdannii said: We should hold the Book of Mormon to the same standards as we do to any of the other books of the canon. Is the author from or linked to the time of the Apostles? Is what it teaches incompatible with what came before?" But I thank you.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


No overwhelming evidence that people of Jewish descent came to the Americas, but there is some. No evidence for Jesus Christ bringing the gospel to native people living in the Americas besides the Book of Mormon itself.

As a quick note the Church of Jesus Christ does not believe or teach that the people recorded in the Book of Mormon were the only residents of the Americas.

Also, like the Bible, the Book of Mormon isn't meant to prove itself scientifically but was written "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations"

Some evidence:

  1. DNA: there is no way to prove or disprove Native Americans descended from Jews using DNA. 1
  2. Language (oral/written):
    • indian language is the very idiom and genius of Hebrew2
    • similarities between Uto-Aztecan and Hebrew3
  3. Traditions/rites/beliefs:
    • there is a common belief in one supreme God/Great Spirit
    • divided into tribes (12 tribes/indian tribes)
    • their manner of counting the months through the lunar year
    • their fasts and religious rites which they believed helped cleanse them of their sins
    • their laws of uncleanliness and marital separation during a women’s menstrual period
    • their ritual purification after touching the dead
    • their cities of refuge
    • their manner of burial of and mourning for the dead
    • their perpetuating the name of a deceased brother through remarriage of his wife2

1 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/book-of-mormon-and-dna-studies?lang=eng

2 The History of the American Indians, by James Adair 1775

3 Lets Void the Void, by Brian Stubbs

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    Non-LDS sources would vehemently dispute most of these claims. I think that some neutral sources should be used.
    – user43409
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 11:14
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    @Mac'sMusings like The History of the American Indians which was published 30 years before Joseph Smith was born? This is from an LDS perspective and I did mention there was no overwhelming evidence one way or the other.
    – depperm
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 12:40
  • Appreciate the links and the fact that you admit there is no overwhelming evidence.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 12:49
  • I asked on another stack exchange what they think of the DNA question. Awaiting more answers, but the first answer is pretty informative. Apparently we have a similar case to compare against in Zoroastrianism, and the genetic evidence is clearly there in that case. So I'm still quite sceptical of the claim that ` there is no way to prove or disprove Native Americans descended from Jews using DNA.`
    – TKoL
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 11:21
  • @TKoL have you read the cited article on DNA (here is another by John M Butler)? another apologetic or this ... I have not studied in this field, but its worth looking at what multiple experts say
    – depperm
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 11:47

Ted E. Brewerton, a general authority of the LDS Church, stated in 1995: "Many migratory groups came to the Americas, but none was as important as the three mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The blood of these people flows in the veins of the Blackfoot and the Blood Indians of Alberta, Canada; in the Navajo and the Apache of the American Southwest; the Inca of western South America; the Aztec of Mexico; the Maya of Guatemala; and in other native American groups in the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific islands". - Ted E. Brewerton, "The Book of Mormon: A Sacred Ancient Record" , Ensign, November 1995.

Thomas Murphy, himself a member of the LDS church and chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington, insists that the Book of Mormon, touted by fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) as the “most correct book on earth,” is incorrect when it claims that Native Americans are of Jewish descent. In a 2002 essay titled “Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics,” he stated,

“So far, DNA research lends no support to traditional Mormon beliefs about the origins of Native Americans.”

D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens, two Mormon biologists from Idaho State University, “accept the published data dealing with Native American origins and view those data as reasonably representing American-Asian connections.” In an article titled, “Who Are the Children of Lehi?” written for the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, both men admit that “the data accumulated to date indicate that 99.6 percent of Native American genetic markers studied so far exhibit Siberian connections.” They add, “There has been little if any evidence seriously considered by the mainstream, scientific community that would indicate a Middle East origin, or any other source of origin, for the majority of contemporary Native Americans.”

The DNA of thousands of Native Americans and Native remains from South, Central, and North America from 150 different tribes have been examined thus far. Following Y chromosome (paternally passed only) and mitochondrial DNA (maternally passed only) genetic markers it has been extrapolated that 99.4 % of Native American ancestry is rooted in northern Asia. A most salient point is that, of the remaining 0.6%, all within this category trace to Europe or North Africa and date to the post Columbus era.

Again, as admitted by Mormon scientists, all DNA testing of pre-1492 skeletal remains undertaken thus far indicate only a northern Asia origin.


I cannot speak to evidence of Lehi's (or other's) journey to the western hemisphere, but as to "evidence" of Jesus teaching the western hemisphere peoples, there are the legends of the White God. All of the following excerpts come from "Four Peruvian Versions of the White God Legend" by Kirk Magleby (Tambuli,1 January 1984)

It is well-known that almost all Indian tribes in the Western Hemisphere preserve oral traditions about the ancient appearance of a white god who came down from heaven to instruct and organize his people. Some of the most interesting versions of this widespread tradition come from Peru, where this legendary deity is known variously as Kon Ticci Viracocha, Tunupa, Pachacamac, Tarapaca, or Arnauan, depending on the region of the country being considered. Four of the more highly acclaimed Peruvian historians, Pedro Cieza de Leon, Sarmiento de Gamboa, Betanzos, and Santacruz Pachacuti, have written especially interesting accounts of this white and bearded god, and when considered together, they give us a reasonably detailed description of the traditional hero’s physical appearance, personality, and activities among the ancestors of the Andean Indians.

Pedro Cieza de Leon arrived in Peru in 1548 as a simple soldier in a military group sent to quell an uprising that had turned into a civil war between the Spanish rulers of the country. He remained until 1550, during which time he visited almost every part of the newly conquered land, observing and recording descriptions of the terrain, the plants, the customs of the natives, and the major facets of their history. He had been keeping a journal of his observations ever since beginning his travels in Colombia in 1541, but now Cieza became fascinated with the idea of writing a history of Peru and its peoples. After completing his military duties, he would interview the amautas and orejones, the surviving wise men and noblemen of the Incas, as well as qualified Spaniards to learn all he could about the history and traditions of the conquered Inca empire.

“These things that I write here are true, and things of importance and benefit,” he wrote in the foreword of his first book, “because many times while the other soldiers slept, I wrote into the night until I wearied.” Cieza’s first work, La Cronica del Peru, was originally published in Seville in 1553, while the later El Senorio de los Incas remained unpublished until 1880. In chapter five of his Senorio, Cieza recorded the following legend about the appearance of a white god to the forebears of the Incas:

“Before the Incas ruled, or were even heard of in these kingdoms, these Indians speak of another thing much greater than all others which they tell, because they affirm that they went for a long time without seeing the sun, and, that, suffering tremendously with this deficiency, they raised great prayers and supplications to those they revered as gods, asking them to restore the light they lacked; and in this manner, there arose from the island of Titicaca, which is in the great lake of Collao, the sun shining brilliantly, which made them all very happy. And afterwards, they say that from the land of the noon sun, there came and appeared to them a white man of large build whose aspect and person showed great authority and veneration, and this man had such supreme power that he levelled the mountains and raised up the plains into large hills, making water flow from boulders; and since they recognized his supreme power, they called him the creator of all things, their originator, father of the sun, because even this notwithstanding, they say that he did many greater things, because he gave life to men and animals, and from his hand, they received notable benefit. According to the Indians who told it to me, who heard it from their fathers, who also heard it in the songs they preserve from antiquity; this man went towards the north, working many miracles in his journey through the mountains, and they never saw him again. In many places they say that he gave commandments to the men about how to live, and that he spoke with love and much humility, admonishing them to be good and not cause harm or injury to one another, but instead, to love each other and have charity. Generally they call him Ticiviracocha, even though in the province of Collao, they call him Tuapaca, and in other places he is known as Arnauan. Many temples were built to him in different places, where they erected stone statues in his likeness before which they offered sacrifices. The large stone figures in the city of Tiahuanacu are said to date from that era, and even though by tradition inherited from the past, they recount this that I tell of Ticiviracocha, they say nothing else about him, nor that he ever returned to any part of this kingdom.”

The journal and books of Cieza de Leon are oddly absent from most online discussions of these legends (e.g., Wikipedia's entry), which are primarily written to debunk efforts to link the legends to Ancient Aliens, Atlantis, etc. There are dozens of books on the subject and it appears most of them are tainted by the biases of the authors, some (if not many) of whom are not professional historians, archeologists, or anthropologists.

If we take these legends at their word, do they provide the proof or evidence you seek? No, they don't. There is striking similarity between the legends and the story found in The Book of Mormon, and the nature of religious dispute is such that the believers will always see corroboration and the dissenters will always wonder if Joseph Smith had access to copies of Cieza de Leon's works.2

But, there you have it to the best of my knowledge. If Cieza de Leon accurately recorded the legends and Joseph Smith's story is factually true, then they are evidence of Jesus Christ visiting and teaching the peoples of the western hemisphere some 1,500 years before Cieza de Leon's advent in the new world.

1The Tambuli Magazine was the first LDS magazine in the Philippines. It was later replaced with the Liahona, which is the Church's magazine distributed outside the United States. When accessing archived magazines on the LDS Church's website, Tambuli will be found listed under the header Liahona.

2Proving that Joseph Smith had access to Cieza de Leon's works is a good example of just how hard it is to prove the validity of any old or ancient text. In other words, it's just short of impossible to prove Joseph Smith had access to the books — but dissenters will always assume he did because, in their mind, it's impossible for Mormonism to be true and therefore there cannot be any proof. Likewise, believers will always assume he didn't because he couldn't have or he wouldn't have been a true prophet. Yuck. Now prove that any of the legends recorded by Cieza de Leon were (a) accurately recorded, (b) accurately interpreted, (c) not biased based on the changes in local culture over 1,500 years... and you see my point about how this is interesting, but hardly proof.

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    If the natives had legends of a 'white god', and we're trying to say that that's evidence that they were visited by Jesus, does that not rely on the assumption that Jesus was white? I know most American and European depictions of Jesus show him as white, but I don't believe that most historians would agree that Jesus was white
    – TKoL
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 8:35
  • @TKoL - Jesus was born to a Jewish mother and undoubtedly had the colouring of a Jewish person. However, what's more important is trying to find evidence of the LDS claim that "Jesus also taught people of Jewish descent in another land: the American continents... " Is there any evidence of Jewish DNA in the indiginous peoples of South America prior to the Spanish conquests? How did Jews get to the Americas long before that continent was even discovered? So far, no evidence is forthcoming.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 8:52
  • @Lesley had the colouring of a Jewish person - I'm not sure I'm on the same page with you there, so I'd appreciate some clarification on that. a Jewish person in today's world can of course look like just about anything - they can look as white as a Saxon or they can be quite dark. How dark would a Jewish person from Bethelhem (or Nazareth or whatever) in the year 0 likely have been?
    – TKoL
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 9:23
  • @TKoL - I actually agree with your comment which questions the assumption that Jesus was white. I simply suggest that Jesus was not a blond, blue-eyed man with Caucasian skin colouring. That, however, is immaterial to the question being asked - is there any evidence that people of Jewish descent came to the Americas before the birth of Jesus? There would have to be physical evidence in the DNA of people descended from the indiginous nations.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 9:45
  • @Lesley you may appreciate the information in this question then.
    – TKoL
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 10:05

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