The Book of Mormon Read Through a Mesoamerican Lens.
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.
Anyone who has read An Ancient American Setting for The Book of Mormon, Mormon's Codex or Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life, or anything else by John L. Sorenson, will notice that he leans on the work of the New World Archaeological Foundation(NWAF). This is because he places the Nephite heartland in the central depression of Chiapas, with the River Sidon being the Grijalva River.
For me, the convergances in cultural development and in the movements of people, between the Book of Mormon and this region of Mesoamerica, in time and space, stretching from Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas to Highland Guatemala, are impressive.
As I'v said before, Sorenson's paradigm owes much to the NWAF, a legitimate and respected archeological franchise. Speaking of the his experience with the NWAF, non-mormon archeologist, Michael Coe says:
When I was a graduate student writing my dissertation on very early cultures in the south coast of Guatemala, it was suggested to me…
Modern critics of the Book of Mormon seem to agree that Nephi's inland route of travel, through Arabia, is basically correct, in light of what we know today.
After fleeing Jerusalem and then leaving their initial base camp, Lehi's family travels in a south-southeast direction, following the coast of the Red Sea. One of the elders of the group dies and is buried in "the place which was called Nahom". Up until this point, the group had named their various stopping points, but the record uses the passive tense here to show that it already had a name. After their stay in Nahom, Lehi's group then travels "nearly eastward", paralleling the frankincense trail, traveling "through affilction", until the reach a lush and verdant coast they name Bountiful. The above correlation with ancient Arabia is strong, as one critic acknowledged: Among critical historians who accept that the BoM arose as a modern production of Joseph Smith, two main theories have b…
Aminadi was a prophet of God. At around 82 BC, his descendant, Amulek, tells us that he, Amulek, was the son Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi, the same Aminadi who interpreted the writing on the temple wall, which was written by the finger of the Lord.
What Amulek and, by extension, Mormon do not tell us is what was written on the wall, nor when or where it was written. Presumably, this was insider information, something Amulek's audience was already aware of.
The mere mention of Aminadi and his interpretation, without giving more information, shows that the incident was a sufficiently important historical event, whose details did not need rehearsing. However, the setting, time and message of the divine temple inscription might be recovered with the use of archeology. The following is something from the great Michael Coe: Archeologist Marion Hatch and her Guatemalan colleagues have encountered evidence for the existance of a now-extinct lake ar…