Comments about ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Mesoamerican model: Evidences and anomalies’

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Published: Monday, Feb. 21 2011 5:30 a.m. MST

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Everybody Wang Chung Tonight
Riverton, Utah

I have no argument with people who revere the Book of Mormon as a spiritual text, just as I have no problem with people who revere the Bible or the Koran as a spiritual text. I have a problem with believers who insist the Book of Mormon is an ancient Mesoamerican text when such a claim requires disregarding DNA evidence, archaeological evidence, distorting and misleading statements about both the content of the Book of Mormon, and most especially, about Mesoamerican history.

Mormons, as a people, honor their ancestors. I would like to see them honor the ancestors of Mesoamerica, as well.

Murray, UT

I see that I have read another article and have not increased my knowledge about the origin on the Book of Mormon.

In the Book of Mormon Reader the pictures look more like a meso-american setting than any other setting.

Pickle Juice, The Key to a BCS
Clinton, UT

I have a theory that makes much more sense then the Mesoamerican, LGT, Traditional, Malay or the Africa Theory or any of these other theories being put forth.

Here is my theory. If Lehi and Company had a miraculous compass, I see no reason why they couldnt also have a time machine. So maybe all the anachronisms come from our assumptions about when things actually happened. Maybe the Nephites were transported back 40 million years when the mesohippus was roaming the continent. This theory has the advantage of explaining why no archaeological or DNA evidence has been found from the traditional understanding of Book of Mormon chronology. This also has the advantage of explaining why the continent was empty of people. And, of course, Christ, being resurrected, also could have easily transported himself back in time 40 million years, so all our assumptions about dates keying off the birth or death of Christ are just wrong. Those dates in the BOM were added later and are not in the original BOM, so they could represent just the wrong opinions of men acting under false assumptions.

Phoenix, AZ

The Mormon Church has proven resourseful at adapting to change for survival and growth. It has made numerous changes and edits to the written history and doctrine of the church. Perhaps now is the time to rewrite the Book of Mormon to conform with geographical and anthropological realities. A good story is still a good story.

Murray, UT

I really don`t understand the controversy. If anyone believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet and knew something of the happenings of the Book of Mormon, why not just believe what he said about it???? It is documented in History of the Church as well as other sources in Church archives that the events of the BofM happened in and around the Ohio valley and up around the hill cumorrah . Not to mention the overwhelming archeological evidence namely, the huge forts left behind in the Ohio valley area that just happen to be built exactly as described in Alma. Also the battle mounds filled with the bones of an ancient people. Archeologists call them the Adena (Jaredite) and Hopewell (Nephite). Many of these carbon date to exactly Jaredite and Nephite time lines. I highly recommend the book ancient monuments of the Mississippi valley by Davis and Squier 1847

Also, how does one explain the "Land of Liberty" in the last days. Or how does one explain that the Promised Land will be the site of the New Jerusalem? Is Ash going to make the arguement that the New Jerusalem will be in Mexico instead Jackson County?

Scottsdale, AZ

Pickle, that's one of the funniest things I've read in recent times. I've been reading through the Book of Mormon, and I underline all of the anachronisms I find. Perhaps one or two anachronisms per book could be explained, but I'm finding sometimes a dozen or more of them PER CHAPTER. Supposedly this is a translation from reformed Egyptian (whatever that may be), but the structure of the anachronisms resembles a KJV translation from the Greek NT. The portion in 2 Nephi I'm reading has extensive quotes and allusions from Romans and Revelation, among others. Moreover, the book often uses Greek words (Christ, crucify, scourge, church). How do Jews in America in 550 B.C. know what crucifixion is? The text doesn't even explain it. The church was a mystery only revealed in the first century, and yet for some reason we have 6th century B.C. American Jews explaining it in NT detail.

I will allow you one or two anachronisms per book to explain away. But there are probably thousands in the BoM as a whole. When even critical scholars won't study your book, you know you have problems.

Provo, Ut

Yes, many scientific theories have holes in them - but we should bear in mind that these incomplete theories are generally developed to explain observed phenomenon. For example, the History chanel recently had a program where "scholars" were rethinking beliefs that Mayans did not engage in long-distance sea travel. A small Island, several hundred miles off the coast of Chile was discovered to hold many Mayan artifacts. Most of the theories will probably be wrong, just due to the probabilities...but, there is an observed reality (the artifacts on an Island) that lead to reasonable theories. How does this correlate to Book of Mormon archaeology? What are the observed realities? A book, said to have originally been written on Gold Plates, that only a small-town scryer was allowed to look at. The book is written in an overtly New Testament style with heavy Christian themes, by a civilization that holds no empirical ties to pre-Columbian Christianity. Then we have New World archaeology and anthropology, which agenda driven "scholars" try and force a fit. Suffice it to say, one "observation" is only apparent to certain to those with certain religious proclivities, and directly conflicts with the undisputed observations (archaeology).

Fort Knox, KY

How would 550BC Jews in America know about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?

Isaiah and other references to the crucifixion in the Old Testament would be a good place to start, the brass plates Lehi and co. took with them contained Isaiah. The brass plates included other writings of prophets, Zenos, Neum, and Zenock which taught about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (1 Nephi 19:10) Plus they had prophets, who dreamed dreams and had angels appear to them, same as any other Old Testament prophet had happen to them. They practiced the Law of Moses, which law points to the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Murray, UT

Enos = Zenoc
Enoch = Zenoch

Is that right, or have I been misinformed?

Fort Knox, KY

I don't know. Where do you find reference that Zenos and Enos, Zenock and Enoch should be the same? If these are the same, who would Neum refer to? It would be interesting to find out.

Provo, Ut

Of course, again the circular logic abounds. We must take on faith that Zenos, Neum, and Zenock, are all prophets who would have filled in the Greek Christian terms, followed up by Christian era theology, in the Old Testament. Though Isaiah has been Christianized, many of the Christian metaphors and allusions (healing in his wings - as an allusion to the crucifixion) are not self-evident. So we appeal to Old Testament Prophets to make a biblical case for The Book of Mormon, forgetting that there is no evidence of these alleged Prophets absent the BoM's says so. It would be quite a feat for the OT to have recieved the surgical precision of being un-Christianized through centuries of translation - while retaining its current level Jewish influence.

Tucson, AZ

Great article! I also look forward to the follow on articles referred to in this story. I know a little about the Mesoamerican model and look forward to learning more. I served a mission for the LDS church in the late 1970's in southern Mexico and was fascinated by Dr. Sorenson's and Dr. Allen's books on this model. The latest (that I know of) journal article by Dr. Sorenson was very interesting and compelling in the similarities between Middle Eastern and Mesoamerican culture. Keep up the good work Mike! Peace to all who read this.

Fort Knox, KY

aaazzz, a couple of articles that may be of interest to you are, "The Plates of Brass: A Witness of Christ, by Robert Millet, January, Ensign, 1988," and "The Dead Sea Scrolls: Some Questions and Answers, by Hugh Nibley, Maxwell Institute."

Murray, UT

Thanks for the references. Usually the simplest anwser is the best one.

I am content with the Book of Mormon even though I believe that we (as a church) will probably never confirm its historical authenticity. The value of its theachings and its gospel are of enough for me to be happy with the book.

We all have so many worries, that spending all the time and effort spent trying to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon could be much better spent with our families and friends, working to create a more Christ-like atmoshpere in our own lives.

Fort Knox, KY

Mormoncowboy: You don't have to believe Zenos, Neum, and Zenock were prophets, but the atonement of Jesus Christ by way of crucifixion was taught in the Old Testament. The word may or may not have been used specifically, but it was taught. Moses raising the brazen serpent is symbolic of Christ being raised on the cross. Isaiah 53 gives some insights of what Christ would go through. It seems to be that there would been some Jews of Lehi's time who would have known about the Savior and how he would be crucified.

Clearfield, UT

When people dig for worms in the Holy Land, they make discoveries. The Bible has been proven HISTORICALLY by archaeology, cities, places, coins, clothing, swords, etc., that have been found, but not one single place mentioned in the Book of Mormon has ever been identified. In the mid 1970's, President Spencer W. Kimball made a statement that should have stopped these "faith promoting rumors." The Church News published it and it said to "stop looking for archaeological evidences for the Book of Mormon, for there is none," he said. Perhaps he finally realized that it was too embarrassing to insist on Book of Mormon archaeology since professors in the Church's own University had started to publicly deny that there was any truth to it. Interestingly enough, not any of the important Mormon doctrines of today are in the book that the Church claims "contains the fullness of the everlasting Gospel."

The Book of Mormon presents problems that cannot be explained away no matter how you twist it! I could go on, but why bother when faith trumps evidence for the LDS.

Scottsdale, AZ

You've missed the point, question mark. We are not debating THAT the OT prophesies of the Messiah; all Christians would agree to that. The point in question is HOW the BoM prophesies of the Messiah. It uses Christian and Greek vocabulary and syntax, which mirror the literal translation in the King James NT. The more of this we find, the higher the probability that the BoM is simply a work of fiction that originated in the 19th century. This is what is meant by anachronism. Joseph Smith imported first century A.D. terminology into a fabricated 6th century B.C. context. The only way Mormons can explain this is to say that God revealed Paul, Peter, and John's language to the American Jews 600 years before those apostles even penned the words! And on top of that, somehow the translation comes out exactly the same as the KJV, even though the BoM is translated from reformed Egyptian, and the NT is in koine Greek, with Joseph Smith "translating" out of a hat with a stone. One anachronism leads to some doubt; dozens of them per chapter allows one to dismiss a work out of hand as fiction.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

The Book of MOrmon is realy not as problematatic as you claim. First much of what we find in the NT is infact quoting the OT. Because Lehi had much of the OT it is not strange at all. As for Joseph Smith useing terms that are from the Greek it because the Boof of Mormon is a TRANSLATION not a TRANSLITERATION. The difference being transliteration is word for word were translation is meaning. Because of this you can read Missiah and Christ the frist being the Hebrew and the seconmd Greek both meaning the same thing in English so you can translate either into the term Christ because that is what te English readers would understand. When Translating into Hebrew you will find the term Messiah, in German Christus, Spanish Christo, Chinese Jidu, ect.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To brokenclay and others. Most of the translations in the Book of Mormon of the teachings of Christ do not actually mirror the literal translation of the Bible. There are numerous differences and there are also simliarities. What you fail to understand is that Joseph Smith didn't completely translate the Book of Mormon via a hat with a stone. We don't know how much of the Book of Mormon this was done with and what parts.

What we do know is that he couldn't write a coherent sentence or a paragraph much less the Book of Mormon during the time it was written. We do know that he had the plates of brass that contained basically the first five books of OT and the sayings of Isaiah. We also know that the Nephites/Lamanites genealogy went through Joseph not Judah.

You want proof but when the proof is given you throw it away as if it is nothing. We are to take the Book of Mormon on faith and faith alone. For 150 plus years people have tried and tried and have failed to prove it wrong. They have all failed.

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

I believe that the point brokenclay is trying to make is that the writers of the BoM are using terms that would be incomprehensible to would-be contemporaries. For example, it is difficult to explain how Nephi would use a term for crucifixion when crucifixion was not widely practiced before the Romans. And even if the concept were given to him in vision, his contemporaries and their ancestors wouldn't know what he was referring to. For a well-explained article on the linguistic arguments, google "packham mormon linguistics".

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