FAIR Conference ends as new Mormon scholarly journal begins

Published: Saturday, Aug. 4 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

Other Friday speakers included Brant Gardener, a doctoral student in Mesoamerican ethno-history, who spoke about the different ways directions were determined in Book of Mormon times; John Gee, a professor of Egyptology who discussed the Book of Abraham papyri; and writer and editor Don Bradley, who explained what is known about temple worship in the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon transcript that were lost by Joseph Smith. Among presenters on Thursday was John L. Sorenson, professor emeritus of anthropology at BYU and a long-time proponent of the theory of a limited, Central American setting for Book of Mormon events.

In a forthcoming book, "Mormon's Codex," Sorenson has identified 420 "correspondences" between Meso-American civilizations, as understood by scholars, and the Book of Mormon. He listed many of those similarities for the conference audience.

Royal Skousen, professor of linguistics and English language at Brigham Young University, spoke of his Critical Text Project, an effort to restore by scholarly means the original text of the Book of Mormon. Skousen cited a number of discrepancies between the printer's manuscript of the book and the text as it stands today, suggesting that in those instances, the original is more doctrinally and internally consistent.

Darius Gray, past president of the Genesis Group, an arm of the LDS Church organized in 1971 to meet the needs of black members, recounted the involvement of Mormons of African descent, stemming from the early days of the Church, with pioneers such as Elijah Abel, Green Flake and Elizabeth Jane Manning James. Gray suggested that the black "Mormon Moment" has been going on for the past 182 years.

Ugo Perego, a Mormon geneticist educated at Brigham Young University and the University of Pavia in Italy, spoke of DNA research pertaining to Native American populations as he rebutted past claims by critics that the Book of Mormon can be dismissed on genetic grounds.

Email: jwalker@desnews.com; rscott@desnews.com

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