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Book of Mormon Geography: An Important Note on John L. Sorenson's Model

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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…

Sorenson Charts

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Archaeologist John L. Sorenson has found interesting correlations between Book of Mormon events and pre-Columbian American history in Mesoamerica (central and southern Mexico and northern Central America). As depicted in this chart (which, like other archaeological time lines, is oriented with the most recent date at the top).

Sorenson suggests that the Olmec civilization was host to the Jaredite ruling lineages and that the two correspond historically, while the Zoquean civilization existing in the Mexican state of Chiapas was host to the Nephite ruling lineages and the Maya in highland Guatemala were the host civilization to the Lamanite dynasties.


While the Teotihuacanos were not related to the Lamanites directly, they are believed to have allied themselves culturally and possibly militarily with the Lamanites near the end of Nephite civilization. The Teotihuacanos may have been the "Gadianton Robbers" that Mormon was fighting in the early fifth century. These chronologi…

The Messianic Event: The Chilam Balam of Chumayel and Slavoj Zizek Read The Book of Mormon

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From Mormon's perspective, the birth of Christ is a Messianic Event. What is a messianic event? To answer that, we need to define two things, the event and the messianic. In his book, Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept, Slavoj Zizek defines the word event as it is used in this post:

This is an event at its purest and most minimal: something shocking, out of joint that appears to happen all of a sudden and interrupts the usual flow of things; something that emerges seemingly out of nowhere, without discernible causes, an appearance without solid being as its foundation. There is by definition, something ‘miraculous’ in an event, from the miracles of our daily lives to those of the most sublime spheres, including that of the divine. The evental nature of Christianity arises from the fact that to be a Christian requires a belief in a singular event –the death and resurrection of Christ. 

InRube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology, Adam S. Miller reminds us that…

Mayan Calendars and Book of Mormon Hermeneutics

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When choosing a theory to explain something, a most important requirement is that the theory answers more questions than it creates. In my last few posts, I have used the Mayan Long Count as interpretive lenses through which to read the Book of Mormon and explain the behavior and historical context of it's people.

Mormon described three different ways the Nephites reckoned time: from the time Lehi left Jerusalem, from the beggining of the reign of "the judges" and from the time the astronomical sign was given of the Messiah's birth.

Mormon and Moroni lived during the period of the third calendar, when time was recorded from  the time of the Messiah's birth. Mormon and Moroni were also mesoamericans. Mesoamerican religion influenced Nephite folk religion to the degree that Nephite folk religion was essentially mesoamerican.

What if Mormon and his people had a cyclical view of history and a calendar which used baktuns(20 katuns), katuns(20 tuns), hotuns(5 tuns) an…

Calendars and Failed Prophesy

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Five years prior to the Savior's birth, a mesoamerican prophet, "Samuel the Lamanite", prophesied that within five years, the Savior's birth would be heralded to Lehi's descendants via a solar miracle. The sun would go down but the sky would be full of light, followed by a regular day, and in the night, a new star. As clear as this prophesy might seem to us, it wasn't at all clear for the hearers:
But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were aspoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.
And they began to arejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.
And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.
But behold, they did watch steadfas…

The Nephite Long Count(?)

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Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that *more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ. 
When Moroni states that "more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ". What's most interesting in this verse is that Moroni specifically says he wants his brethren the Lamanites to know that it had been more than four hundred and twenty years, because that number would carry much more meaning to the Lamanites than it would to the Gentiles.
The Maya "Long Count" is based on a 360 day year called a tun. 20 tuns make a katun. 20 katuns(400 tuns), make a baktun. The Long Count recorded the elapsed number of periods of 400 years + periods of 20 years + years + periods of 20 days + days since the "creation" day of 13 August 3114 BC (although it's unclear…

The Amlicite War as Peasant Revolt: Class Warefare in The Book of Mormon

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Disclaimer: the purpose of this post is NOT to "prove" the Book of Mormon true. The purpose of this post is to understand the book better, as well as it's author, by treating it as the real history it purports to be. 

As Grant Hardy has pointed out, Mormon had three competing priorities when writing his history, three roles he was trying to fulfill: historian, writer and moralist.

In this post, I will show how historian gave way to moralist by showing that the Amlicite War was as much a class war, a peasant revolt(?) as it was a religious war. Also, the discontentment with new inequalities in Nephite society are partly responsible for the universalist eschatology of the Nehors and their support for their would be king, Amlici.

In the past, I have argued for Sorenson's basic paradigm for Book of Mormon history, which Olmec Jaredites in the "land northward", Zoquen Nephites in the central depression of Chiapas and Mayan Lamanites in the "land southward&q…

The Pacifists Who Sent Their Sons to War

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Like half of what is on this blog, the following is based on an original insight made by Brant Gardner. See Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History

The people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi are an enigma. At first, they were Lamanites and sworn enemies of the Nephites and as Lamanites would have been engaged in the raiding, capturing, enslavement and slaughter of Nephites.

However, the sons of a Nephite king, newly endowed with evangelical zeal, end up converting entire Lamanite cities to the Nephite faith, such that the converted Lamanites make a covenant to adopt their religion and become extreme pacifists, burying their weapons and preferring to be slaughtered by the sword than to defend themselves violently.

After these newly converted Lamanites uproot and are taken in as refugees, by their former enemies, they offer up their adolescent sons to fight in a Nephite war, rather than breaking their pacifistic covenant(Alma 24Alma 53), which theoretically disqualifies them as …

The Mexican Christ

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The following is based on a small part, of a larger argument, made by Mark Alan Wright. You can read the full presentation at: Axes Mundi: Ritual Complexes in Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon.

The visitation of Jesus Christ to ancient America is a great example of God condenseding to his children and speaking to them in the weakness of their own language and understanding(D&C 1:24).

Reading this account through a mesoamerican lens, we can also appreciate the nature of Christ's atonement for our sins, from a different angle. The Gospel of Luke and 3 Nephi both give converging witness of the physical resurrection but with some small variation. When appearing to his disciples, the Savior says:

Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. -3 Nephi 11:1…

Comparing Cuicuilco and Jacobugath

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Like half of what is on this blog, the following is based on an original insight made by Brant Gardner, particularly on Teotihuacan. See Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History

Mormon was a writer who was juggling three competing agendas: moralist, historian and poet. Grant Hardy has shown that as a historian, Mormon used methods which, through modern eyes, could be seen as unreliable, namely that for Mormon the reliability of a historical account was tied to the character of the record keeper:

And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record. - 3 Nephi 8:1

By modern standards, this is an irrational standard to hold for we know that bad people can keep accurate records of the past and good people can keep inaccurate records of the past; character is irrelevant when judging the methods of a historian. Mormon was also aware of the imperfect nature of his work:
And whoso receive…