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The Future of Book of Mormon Studies

Mark Alan Wright received his PhD in Anthropology (with a subfield of specialization in Mesoamerican Archaeology) from the University of California, Riverside in 2011, and his BA and MA in Anthropology from UCLA (2003) and UC Riverside (2004). He has conducted fieldwork in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. He began teaching part-time in the Ancient Scripture department at BYU in 2007 and has been full-time since 2011. Prior to BYU, he taught Anthropology at Mt. San Jacinto College (2006) as well as early-morning seminary and Institute classes in Southern California from 1999-2007. He was born and raised in Long Beach, California. He and his beautiful wife Traci (Adjunct Professor of History at Utah Valley University) live in Vineyard, Utah.

Scripture and Drake Equation

"That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God"(D&C 76:24).

 "And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever"(Moses 7:30).

"And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten"(Moses 1:33).

Enoch's Mud Volcano?

Abstract: The selections of the Prophesy of Enoch found in the Book of Moses describe Enoch the Prophet working miracles in the defense of Zion. Based on today's events in Pakistan, it seems that islands do spontaneously appear in connection with certain powerful earthquakes. Perhaps, this is what is being described in the Prophesy of Enoch. For further reading on this scripture, I recommend an earlier blog post(The Prophesy of Enoch).

"And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. There also came up a land out of the depth of the sea, and so great wa…

The Testimony of Oliver Cowdery

“While darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people, long after the authority to administer in holy things had been taken away, the Lord opened the heavens and sent forth his word for the salvation of Israel. In fulfillment of the sacred scripture, the everlasting gospel was proclaimed by the mighty angel (Moroni), who, clothed with the authority of his mission, gave glory to God in the highest. This gospel is the ‘stone taken from the mountain without hands.’ John the Baptist, holding the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood; Peter, James and John, holding the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, have also ministered for those who shall be heirs of salvation, and with these ministrations ordained men to the same priesthoods. These priesthoods, with their authority, are now, and must continue to be, in the body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Blessed is the elder who has received the same, and thrice blessed and holy is he who shall endure to the end. Accept …

CSI Nauvoo: The Kinderhook Plates Mystery

Don Bradley is a writer, editor, and researcher specializing in early Mormon history. Don recently performed an internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project and is completing his thesis, on the earliest Mormon conceptions of the New Jerusalem, toward an M.A. in History at Utah State University.

He has published on the translation of the Book of Mormon, plural marriage before Nauvoo, and Joseph Smith’s “grand fundamental principles of Mormonism” and plans to publish an extensive analysis, co-authored with Mark Ashurst-McGee, on the Kinderhook plates. Don’s first book, The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Missing Contents of the Book of Mormon, is slated to be published by Greg Kofford Books in September.

In this presentation, Bradley discusses the Kinderhook Plates and sheds new light on understanding what Joseph Smith meant when he supposedly said to have "translated" a portion of the bogus plates.

Mormon's Codex: A Preview of Sorenson's Magnum Opus

Abstract: The following was taken from Daniel Petersen's Sic et Non Blog. It was written by John L. Sorenson and I felt that such an awesome post had to be shared verbatim. Most of  what is written about the Book of Mormon's ancient american setting, by Mormons and non-Mormons, isn't very good. One of the few exceptions has been John L. Sorenson, used with permission:) This document serves to introduce readers to the content of Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American Book (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, and, Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, Maxwell Institute Press), to be released in September 2013. The Preview conveys the intent of the book and provides a sample of the technical details included in the 800+ page hardbound volume and the digital edition. [Mormon’s Codex: A Summary, a 125-page e-book (44,751 words) which will soon be available at JohnLSorenson.com, makes major points of the book’s argument accessible in a concise and portable format, but it does not includ…

Mormon Polygamy: Fact and Fiction

Plural marriage is one of those things that people, in and out of the Mormon Church, either smile at, chuckle at or fume over. Our responses to polygamy are largely a function of our beliefs and the experiences we've had with marriage, family life and ecclesiastical authority thus the variety of feelings and attempted explanations. Some of these explanations, both faith promoting and accusatory, are often factually untrue. In this round table discussion, three Mormon scholars try to explain and demystify an abandoned Mormon practice that lives on in the minds of our friends and foes.

Friendship: The Grand Fundamental Principle of Mormonism

Don Bradley is a writer, editor, and researcher specializing in early Mormon history. Don recently performed an internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project and is completing his thesis, on the earliest Mormon conceptions of the New Jerusalem, toward an M.A. in History at Utah State University.

He has published on the translation of the Book of Mormon, plural marriage before Nauvoo, and Joseph Smith’s “grand fundamental principles of Mormonism” and plans to publish an extensive analysis, co-authored with Mark Ashurst-McGee, on the Kinderhook plates. Don’s first book, The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Missing Contents of the Book of Mormon, is slated to be published by Greg Kofford Books in September.

Deification: Divine Inheritance in The Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica

Mark Alan Wright received his PhD in Anthropology (with a subfield of specialization in Mesoamerican Archaeology) from the University of California, Riverside in 2011, and his BA and MA in Anthropology from UCLA (2003) and UC Riverside (2004). He has conducted fieldwork in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. He began teaching part-time in the Ancient Scripture department at BYU in 2007 and has been full-time since 2011. Prior to BYU, he taught Anthropology at Mt. San Jacinto College (2006) as well as early-morning seminary and Institute classes in Southern California from 1999-2007. He was born and raised in Long Beach, California.

The Prophesy of Enoch

The Enoch portion of the Book of Moses was originally called "Extract from the Prophesy of Enoch"(JSP). It was given in the first year of the Church, 1830, when there were only 70 Mormons. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. Keystones hold bridges up; they are not the foundation. The Prophesy of Enoch is the foundation scripture of the Restoration(Terryl Givens). The Prophesy of Enoch contains doctrines which have forever set the Restoration apart from contemporary Christianity(Terryl Givens):
Vulnerable God  “the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept”(Moses 7:28).
Premortal Existence
“I made men . . . before they were in the flesh”(Moses 6:51).

Human Deification
“Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook…thou hast made me, and given me a right to thy throne”(Moses 7:41,59).

Zion
“And the Lo…

How Joseph Became a Seer

I just finished reading Don Bradley's paper on the First Vision that he gave at FAIR(Here). He is honestly getting me to rethink what I wrote in "Joseph Smith and The Sorcerer's Stone"(Here). Above, I have posted a different paper that he gave at the Mormon Transhumanist Conference. It just goes to show, you(read I) can only go so far in reading other people's books and other people's papers. You have to go to the original sources and dig and scrounge like a detective. 
In my past posting, I argued that Joseph's translation of the Book of Mormon was not magical but religious, implying that his past experiences with the seer stone were magic and that a culture of magical thinking reared and protected him for the tasks ahead. Now, I'm not so sure. I'm starting to think that Joseph's experiences with the seer stone were religious, spiritual gifts, from the get go. I'm starting to think that the magical culture was a place of of hiding, keepi…

Joseph Smith's Earliest Opinions Regarding Book of Mormon Geography

After the Prophet Joseph Smith translated Mormon's metal codex, he naturally had assumptions about where it all took place. Here is a sampling of some of his earlier opinions, taken from the Joseph Smith Papers website. If you are interested in a more detailed discussion of this topic, I refer you to Matt Roper(Click Here).

"The Camp passed through Huntsville in Randolph County which has been appointed as one of the Stakes of Zion, and is the ancient cite of the City of Manti and pitched tents at Dark Creek"(JSP).

"The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest men and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity"(JSP).

"When we arrived at Col. Lyman Wight’s, who lives at the Foot of Tower Hill. {a name I gav…

The Nephite Religions

In his book Did God Have a Wife, William Dever reminds us that there has always been a difference between "book religion" and "folk religion". The Bible is essentially a "revisionist history", with Deuteronomist historians projecting their own religious sensibilities unto the history of their forefathers. The Bible doesn't describe religion as it was, rather as how they thought it should have been. Real Israelite religion consisted of the things the Deuteronomist historians condemned.

The Book of Mormon is an ancient book, written by the Prophet Mormon in the early 400's AD. Mormon was writing about a culture and religion that existed hundreds of years in his past. I suspect that Mormon shared similar limitations and weaknesses with the writers of the Bible. He was part of what had usually been an ethnic and religious minority. Like the Deuteronomists, he described the history and religion of his forefathers in very idealistic ways. What the Book…

Stela 5 does NOT depict Lehi's Dream

"In the 48 years since Jakeman first concluded that Stela 5 represents Lehi's dream of the tree of life, major advancements have come about in the study of Mesoamerican art. Hundreds more monuments have been discovered and many of them have been analyzed in a detail that was impossible in the 1950s. It should not be surprising that these later studies would require changes in his interpretation as well as the interpretations of other scholars treating the material. His argument depended on interpreting the iconography of Stela 5. But this was seriously hampered by lack of a good pictorial representation of the scene on the stone. Major details were omitted or misdrawn in the rendering Jakeman used. A poor drawing is the equivalent of bad data. There is no way to arrive at a "correct" analysis using bad data. Unfortunately, because of the poor drawing, Jakeman saw things on the stone that are not there and missed many other features that are. In this he had company,…