We should seek and rely on a personal, spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon, independently of scholarly research and secular approaches. But when critics manage to lure away faithful members with their arguments, countering those also has its place. My assertion is that the Book of Mormon is more complex than most people realize. There are intricate, internally consistent details, that we normally don't think about. Critics do not factor those into their theories of Book of Mormon origins, but they cannot be ignored. We have given numerous examples before on this blog. Each example may not be too convincing on its own, but there are literally hundreds and combined they make it difficult to believe that Joseph Smith could remember so many details without notes or manuscript.
Here is another example. In the "war chapters" in Alma we get a lot of details about the geography of the Nephite lands. Earlier in Alma, where the mission of the sons of Mosiah among the Lamanites is recounted, we also get the names of several Lamanite cities. To make up some strange city names does not have to be too difficult, even when doing it with your face in a hat, unless you have to remember them and bring them up again at some later point and avoid contradictions. But this is exactly the case.
This is what the Book of Mormon tells us about Lamanite lands: It is (ironically) called the land of Nephi. At least, that is what the Nephites call it, perhaps the Lamanites themselves used another name, but the Book of Mormon is written by Nephites. The historical background is found in 2 Nephi 5 and The Book of Omni. An interesting side note is that Joseph Smith had not yet dictated these chapters at the time he gave the information about Lamanite geography in Alma.
In 2 Nephi 5, Nephi and those who want to come with him, separate from Laman and Lemuel and those who are hostile towards Nephi. They establish themselves in the land of Nephi and live there for 400 years. But Nephi's brother, Jacob, prophesies
And the time speedily cometh, that except ye repent they [the Lamanites] shall possess the land of your inheritance, and the Lord God will away the righteous out from among you. (Jacob 3:4)
In Omni, Mosiah-1 is warned and flees the land of Nephi with those who want to follow him. The more wicked part of the Nephites had already been destroyed at that point (Omni 1:5). Later (in the Book of Mormon but earlier in the dictation sequence), in Mosiah 9, we read that Zeniff wants to go back to inherit the land of Nephi, but now there are Lamanites living there. Naturally, they took the land of Nephi in possession when the Nephites had either fled or been destroyed, just like Jacob had prophesied.
When the sons of Mosiah later go on a mission there to preach the gospel to the Lamanites, we learn some of their city names. Some are found at various places in the text. In Alma 23:9-12, we get a list of cities in which Lamanites converted:
7 cities altogether. Most of these are not names that Joseph Smith could have just thrown out there because they have been mentioned before. The first one mentioned is Ishmael. This is where Ammon went in the beginning of the story.
And Ammon went to the land of , the land being called after the sons of , who also became Lamanites. (Alma 17:19)
The king in Ishmael, Lamoni, became converted along with basically his whole kingdom. So it is natural that this is first on the list.
Middoni is next. This city is mentioned in chapters 19 and 20 as the place where Ammon's brothers were cast into prison. Lamoni was a friend of the king in Middoni and went with Ammon there and set them free. We don't read more details but we know this happened after Lamoni's conversion so perhaps he influenced the king and that later caused much conversion in this city as well.
Next in the list is the city of Nephi. This is first mentioned in Alma 22:1.
Now, as Ammon was thus teaching the people of Lamoni continually, we will return to the account of Aaron and his brethren; for after he departed from the land of Middoni he was by the Spirit to the land of Nephi, even to the house of the king which was all the land it were the land of Ishmael; and he was the father of Lamoni.
When Aron preaches to Lamoni's father in the land of Nephi (who probably lives in the city of Nephi, since these "lands" were city states), he is also converted with his whole house. So it is natural that the city of Nephi is also on this list. There is another subtle detail that I highlighted. Why is he king over all the land except the land of Ishmael? Two chapters earlier, an encounter between Ammon and Lamoni's father resulted in him promising this:
I will grant unto you that my son may retain his kingdom from this time and forever; and I will govern him no more (Alma 20:26)
So when we later read about Lamoni's father who is king over all the land, there is now one exception, and the text references back to that detail.
Shilom and Shemlon are next on the list and never mentioned in the account of the mission of the sons of Mosiah. We have to go all the way back to Mosiah 24:1 for the last mention of these lands, where they are presented as Lamanite territory.
Lemuel and Shimnilom are the only cities we have not read about before and therefore in theory could have been just thrown into the mix without disrupting internal consistency. But all the other 5 lands/cities have already been introduced in the text and had to match the fact that they were Lamanite cities with potential converts.
There are also a few Lamanite cities/lands that have been introduced in the text but are not on the list of Lamanite cities with converts in Alma. For instance, in Alma 21:2, we read about a city called Jerusalem (named after the city of their forefathers). This is a city with many Amulonites and Amalekites and synagogues after the order of Nehor to which they belonged. Since, for the most part, those born as Lamanites converted and not Amulonites and Amalekites, it is not unexpected that this city is excluded from the list.
The point is: Those who say that Joseph Smith just made it all up, need to explain how he could get all these details straight with his face in a hat. It is not trivial.