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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…

Lightening and Resurrection

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When studying ancient religious texts, like the Bible, scholars use the religious texts of contemporary and neighboring cultures, as an interpretive lens. The deciphering of Akkadian and Sumerian have been a boon for the understanding of the Old Testament. Dr. David Bokovoy said it best:

Without Babel there would be no Bible. I'm convinced that a familiarity with Akkadian and the literary sources from ancient Mesopotamia, for example, are just as important for properly understanding the Bible (especially the Pentateuch) as a knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic.

The same thing applies for the Book of Mormon. If the Book of Mormon was written in Mesoamerica then Mayan sources can play a role in interpreting the text, as an interpretive lens. The following is Dr. Mark Alan Wright's very brief description of Mayan theology:

A central tenet of ancient Maya theology was that the maize god died, was buried, and was resurrected when lightning cracked open the surface of the earth, which wa…

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…

The Mayan Long Count as Interpretive Lens

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When looking for a theory to explain something, one of the most important things is that the theory answers more questions than it creates. In my last few posts, I have used the Mayan Long Count as an interpretive lens through which to read the Book of Mormon and explain the behavior and historical context of it's people. 
Here are some of the  tentative fruits of that experiment:
1)Using the Long Count as an interpretative lens puts the Jaredite chronology on more of a sure footing. We now have a reliable end date for the patrelineal lineage described in the book, 400BC. This gets us closer to possibly deciphering the rest of the Jaredite history as well.
Because the Jaredite kings were almost certainly polygamists, had children in their old age and practiced ultimogeniture, I have used the average age of death for ancient Mayan kings as a rough approximation for the average generation length for the old, libidinous, polygamous kings.
The resulting chronology, plus Sorenson…

The Subjective Nature of Nephite Identity

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Alma 46:22-23 Now this was the covenant which they made, and they cast their garments at the feet of Moroni, saying: We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression.
 Moroni said unto them: Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; yea, we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces; yea, and now behold, let us remember to keep the commandments of God, or our garments shall be rent by our brethren, and we be cast into prison, or be sold, or be slain.
What's interesting in these verses is that the Nephites identified with their extinct "brethren in the land northward". Captain Moroni, Moron-ite(?), correctivly reminds them of their Israelite heritage and that because of God's promi…

Mulek the Conqueror

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Attribution: the following post leans heavily on the work of Jeffrey R. Chadwick.

In Helaman 8:12, we read: 
And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?
In Jeremiah 38:6, the Hebrew phrase that is mistranslated as "Malchiah son of Hammelech" is actually Malkiyahu ben-ha-melek(מַלְכִּיָּהוּ בֶן־הַמֶּלֶךְ). In Hebrew, this means "Malkiyahu, son of the King".But was this Malkiyahu(מַלְכִּיָּהוּ) the same person as Mulek? In the case of Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah(Jeremiah 32:12), the long form of his name is Berekyahu. If Berekyahu can be shortened to Baruchthen Mulek is a plausible hypocorism of Malkiyahu. 
John L. Sorenson identifies the city of Mulek with La Venta. However, La Venta was an Olmec site that was abandoned in 400 BC. Mormon tells us that the Nephite…

The End of the Jaredites

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Whenever the two sources or “witnesses” happen to converge in their testimony, a historical “datum” (or given) may be said to have been established beyond reasonable doubt. To ignore or to deny the implications of such convergent testimony is irresponsible scholarship, since it impeaches the testimony of one witness without reasonable cause by suppressing other vital evidence. (What Did The Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?; William Dever, 2001, pg. 107)
Unlike the Nephites, we don't have a start date or an end date for the Jaredites, in the Book of Mormon, thus we don't have a firm chronology with which to compare with archeology. Past proposals for a beginning date or end date for Ether's lineage history have tended to be too eager to see a connection between the Jaredites and Olmec or too hesitant, my own included.

Any attempt to create a Jaredite chronology must begin with the king list provided by Moroni, in Ether 1; archeology should only be reffered t…