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Showing posts from September, 2014

Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon

Abstract: Anti-Mormon criticisms of the Book of Mormon are frequently based on a questionable set of assumptions concerning the nature of historical and archaeological evidence, the role of governing presuppositions, and the nature of historical proof. Using arguments found in a recent anti-Mormon critique by Luke Wilson as a foundation, this article analyzes issues of the difficulties of reconstructing ancient geographies, problems with the discontinuity of Mesoamerican toponyms, the historical development of the idea of a Limited Geography Model, and difficulties of textual and artifactual interpretation when trying to relate the Book of Mormon to archaeological remains.
Read the rest here in The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.

Letter to a Doubter

"I understand that some doubts have arisen in your mind. I don’t know for sure what they are, but I imagine I have heard them before. Probably I have entertained some of them in my own mind. And perhaps I still harbor some of them myself. I am not going to respond to them in the ways that you may have anticipated. Oh, I will say a few things about why many doubts felt by the previously faithful and faith-filled are ill-founded and misplaced: the result of poor teaching, na├»ve assumptions, cultural pressures, and outright false doctrines. But my main purpose in writing this letter is not to resolve the uncertainties and perplexities in your mind. I want, rather, to endow them with the dignity and seriousness they deserve. And even to celebrate them. That may sound perverse, but I hope to show you it is not. ..."

Read the rest at terrylgivens.

"According to Their Language, unto Their Understanding": The Cultural Context of Hierophanies and Theophanies in Latter-day Saint Canon

Latter-day Saint canon is replete with manifestations of the sacred. A general term for a manifestation of the sacred is hierophany, whereas the appearance of a deity is referred to as a theophany. Scholars of religion note that hierophanies are products of their culture; in essence, a culture both defines and is defined by its hierophanies. The peoples and cultures described in Latter-day Saint canonical texts did not exist in cultural vacuums. They were surrounded by, and at times entrenched within, other nations; sometimes the people were generalized as Gentiles or pagans and at other times were specified by name, such as Babylonians, Egyptians, or Lamanites. It was within these contexts that ancient prophets received revelations and were witnesses to divine power. Each prophet was a product of his own culture, and the manner in which the divine was manifested to the prophets was largely defined by the semiotics of their culture. ...

Read the rest at Studies in the Bible and Antiqui…

Axes Mundi: Ritual Complexes in Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon

Places are made sacred through manifestations of the divine or ritual activity. The occurrence of a theophany or hierophany or the performance of particular rituals can conceptually transform a place into an axis mundi, or the center of the world. A variety of such axes mundi are known from the archaeological record of Mesoamerica and the text of the Book of Mormon. I compare and contrast several distinctive types of such ritual complexes from Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon and argue that they served functionally and ideologically similar purposes.

Read the rest at The Interpreter.

Joseph Smith's Polygamy, is a valuable resource put together by Brian Hales and his wife, Laura Harris, Brian is the author of several books on polygamy. I was lucky enough to be at one of his firesides, probably the first fireside on the subject, in one hundred years, when he spoke at the Irvine Stake Center. I don't post on polygamy because I find the subject very boring. However, I realize how important it is, so I offer up the link to Brian's site; because Brian takes away the boredom and gives you all the details. Why did Mormons practice polygamy? Doctrine and Covenants 132 is a good place to start when asking that question. Brian outlines for reasons, which I will quote verbatim:
Reason #1 – Restitution 
The Apostle Peter spoke of the “restitution of all things” that would occur in the last days (Acts 3:21). Joseph Smith explained that this “restitution” would include a restoration of “the ancient order of plural marriage.” He taught that polygamy as practiced “ancientl…

An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Coe

Abstract: In August 2011 John Dehlin conducted a three-part interview with famed Mesoamericanist Michael Coe. Dehlin operates the podcast series Mormon Stories, which features interviews discussing the faith and culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This article examines a large number of dubious claims made in those interviews, providing clarifications, responses, and references to numerous sources dealing with those issues. Much more detail will be forthcoming in Dr. Sorenson’s new book, Mormon’s Codex.

Read the rest at The Interpreter.

Testing a Methodology: A Malaysian Setting for the Book of Mormon

William G. Dever correctly posits that “in history-writing of any kind, the choice of method is fundamental, because to a large degree it determines the outcome of the inquiry. Where you arrive depends not only upon where you think you are going, but also upon how you decide to get there.” In his own work, he has suggested a methodology that he has termed “convergence.” That is, “it is possible to learn about the past, not simply by amassing more bits and pieces of disjointed ‘evidence,’ but rather by coordinating the pieces of evidence and situating them within a context relating knowledge to a deliberate quest.” It is a process where multiple data converge into a cohesive understanding relating to a particular time and place.

Read the rest at The Interpreter.