© 2002 by Dan Vogel. Used by permission of author.
Preparation of the web version of Indian Origins has given me an opportunity of responding to Kevin Christensen's 43-page review that appeared in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 2 (1990): 214-57.
Christensen makes two important concessions, which happen to be the two major objectives of Indian Origins.
1. Christensen twice admits that "some defenders have claimed too much" with regard to what Joseph Smith could or could not have known about ancient American civilizations (218, 220).
2. Christensen twice allows that the Mound Builder myth may have had an influence on Joseph Smith's post-1830 descriptions of the Book of Mormon, especially in his 1842 letter to newspaper editor John Wentworth (226, 231).
Christensen is careful to avoid the implications of this last admission, stating: "Even if we allow for the possibility that 'the ongoing debate' affected the contents of the Wentworth letter, it is by no means clear that we commit ourselves thereby to believing that the contents of the Book of Mormon itself were so affected" (226).
As stated at the outset of Indian Origins, my primary objective was not to discover possible "sources" for the Book of Mormon, but rather to reconstruct the early nineteenth-century debates about Indian origins and determine to what extent the Book of Mormon took part in that discussion. If historicity issues arose out of this procedure, they were not ignored but considered secondary. Setting aside such historicity issues, Christensen believes Indian Origins "provides new and interesting information on the pre-1830 environment of the Book of Mormon, especially concerning knowledge of Mesoamerican antiquities" (257).
Having briefly touched on Christensen's concessions, I now turn to a review of his concerns, which primarily revolve around the secondary issue of historicity.
Christensen begins with a discussion of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Based on a loose reading of Kuhn's work, Christensen characterizes debates over the Book of Mormon's historicity as "paradigm debates," where one paradigm has yet to prevail (216). The major paradigm debate is between naturalism and supernaturalism (218). He believes the scientific community rejects Book of Mormon historicity because they are working from the wrong paradigm. He also believes that paradigm choice is arbitrary, that all paradigms rests on "non-empirical assumptions," and that a supernatural paradigm is just as valid as a naturalistic one. He concludes that Book of Mormon historicity issue cannot be "adequately" resolved without making a "paradigm shift."
In applying Kuhn's work in this way, Christensen travels a well-worn path of the pseudo-scientist, pseudo-historian, and New Age religionists. Kuhn's critique of the scientific establishment has had some unexpected and unintended applications. It is not uncommon for those who become frustrated when the scientific or scholarly community rejects their radical theories to draw on Kuhn's treatise and then to offer the following argument:
the scientific community sometimes resists radical yet valid changes to its received canon of knowledge;
the scientific community strongly resists my radical theories because it represents a new paradigm shift;
therefore my radical theories are valid.
Some misunderstand Kuhn to mean that since there are some subjective elements in a paradigm, everything in a paradigm is therefore subjective, relative, and untestable. Kuhn was not defending extreme relativism, nor was he proposing that all paradigms have equal validity. If Christensen understood Kuhn, he would not say: "One man's distortion is another's paradigm" (234).
While Kuhn has had his critics, Kuhn's critique is valuable because it revealed the human and political side of science. Like most institutions, the scientific establishment is conservative, self-serving, and resistant to radical changes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the era in which Kuhn wrote was one of radical cultural transition and institutions generally were under attack. Kuhn was also helpful in highlighting the human element in scientific research, especially in the process of formulating theories. While there are subjective elements in all theories or paradigms, that does not mean that they are all equally useful or probable, or even have the same validity. Science will always be a human endeavor, but the goal is to remove as far as possible subjective elements. Scientific method is an imperfect tool, but it is the best tool we have.
Whether or not one accepts Kuhn's critique of science, Christensen misapplies Kuhn's work to Book of Mormon studies in several ways. First, paradigm debates in science are one thing, but in Book of Mormon studies they are entirely different. Kuhn was critiquing competing scientific theories, which is part of the process. Book of Mormon studies have yet to reach the point where they can be called scientific let alone form competing paradigms. Because the Book of Mormon has yet to connect with ancient American history in any meaningful way, they are pre-scientific.
Second, the primary paradigm debate in Book of Mormon studies is not between scientific theories, but rather between naturalism and supernaturalism, science and pseudo-science, history and pseudo-history. One is therefore not surprised to find Christensen referencing Kuhn in a manner not unlike supporters of New Age religion: "Gospel-related questions occasionally lead to what Kuhn calls a paradigm shift. ... One [should do] science in a way that includes a spiritual dimension" (218). Neither is one surprised when Christensen attacks the naturalistic assumptions (i.e., positivism/empiricism) of Book of Mormon critics. Despite one's views on the naturalism vs. supernaturalism debate, drawing on Kuhn's work to justify a paradigm shift that would include supernaturalism is to misunderstand Kuhn's intent.
Third, the process that a scientist goes through in formulating theory is vastly different than what an apologist does. The scientist seeks a theory that explains most of the evidence, whereas the apologist formulates one that explains most of it away. Christensen unintentionally touches on this when he states: "At the present time no single paradigm prevails in Book of Mormon studies. We have competing theories of historicity, geography, and translation factors" (216). Actually, the "factors" Christensen mentions are not theories in the scientific sense, but rather ad hoc hypotheses designed to deflect adverse evidence that challenges a paradigm that states that the Book of Mormon is a translation of an ancient text.(1) While there are examples of ad hoc hypotheses in science, they are generally recognized as such and resisted.
Christensen questions the "adequacy" of my approach, by which he means that I paid little attention to the works of Book of Mormon apologists, particularly those at FARMS, that support Book of Mormon antiquity. Because I was not primarily concerned about matters of historicity, but rather with describing the ongoing debates about Indian origins prior to the Book of Mormon's publication and assessing as far as possible how the book participated in those debates, I was not obligated to take on FARMS, although at key places I did. I was not attempting a comprehensive response to Book of Mormon apologists, nor was I trying to resolve historicity issues with finality. Recognizing that there was an incompleteness in our knowledge of the pre-1830 literature, I jumped off the apologetic treadmill to gather the necessary material essential to conduct such discussions. I also believed that a correct and more complete understanding of the situation preceding the Book of Mormon's appearance would answer many questions along the way. Before questioning my methodology, Christensen should keep in mind that no matter how many correlations one perceives in a text, one negative evidence cancels them all. In other words, it is the apologists who are obliged to answer every negative evidence, while those who doubt only need present evidence for rejecting Book of Mormon historicity.
Christensen's discussion of paradigms is followed by a section he calls: "Vogel's Nonempirical Assumptions." His use of the phrase "nonempirical assumptions" is an attempt to cast the discussion over Book of Mormon historicity in terms of Kuhn's competing paradigms, which I have shown to be inappropriate. Nevertheless, the struggle between apologists and critics is not accurately described as a paradigm debate, for the critics have long ago won their point. The traditional view of Book of Mormon history and geography collapsed with the advent of archaeology and anthropology, although most Mormons remain unaware of this event. Discovering the futility of forcing scientific findings into a Book of Mormon mold, twentieth-century apologists reversed the procedure by forcing and contorting the Book of Mormon into a New World form. This was not a paradigm shift, but rather an attempt to save the old paradigm from demise.
Most of Christensen's objections are precariously balanced on the head of one apologetic needle called the Limited Geographic Theory. This theory is not a paradigm, but rather a ad hoc hypothesis designed for no other reason than to rescue the Book of Mormon from the implications of adverse "empirical" evidence. The limited theory, as we will see, is maintained by a series of other ad hoc hypotheses and specialized interpretations. The only fruit this theory produces is how well it functions to maintain the faith, not how well it explains ancient American history.
Christensen lists ten assumptions which he believes underlies my approach to the Book of Mormon. What Christensen labels as my "nonempirical assumptions" is really my lack of response to the nonemperical assertions of the Mormon apologists. Christensen would do well to consider the fact that one can learn much about nineteenth-century theology and concerns from reading the Book of Mormon, but almost nothing about ancient America. One purpose of Indian Origins was to remind Mormon apologists how well the Book of Mormon fits into Joseph Smith's world.
Assumption #1: A closed system: Environment + Imagination = Everything.
Christensen believes my presentation of the pre-1830 sources is one-sided and does not achieve "comprehensive adequacy" because it ignores the works of apologists. As already stated, because my primary goal was to understand the Book of Mormon not to disprove it, I was not obligated to take on the apologists, who after more than 150 years are still without any hard evidence in support of the Book of Mormon. It will take more than the efforts of one person to dismantle the apologia and polemic propping up the Book of Mormon, yet I believe my search through the pre-1830 literature demonstrates that the Book of Mormon's historical claims fit comfortably into Joseph Smith's nineteenth-century environment.
The environmental approach is not a "closed system," as Christensen maintains, since the possibility exists that one might not find significant parallels. Christensen gives priority to evidence supporting historicity, yet it is the lack of hard evidence and the failure of the historical approach to connect the Book of Mormon to Mesoamerica in a meaningful way that justifies creating a plausible alternative. At the moment, the environmental approach is the only one yielding fruit (for example, genetic confirmation that the Indians are not Jewish), requires the least elaboration and fewest assumptions, and is not maintained by endless ad hoc hypothesizing.
Nevertheless, Christensen creates his own closed system when he argues that the pre-1830 evidence will never be able to explain every Mesoamerican trait brought forward by the apologists for the simple reason that knowledge of ancient Central American cultures was meager in Joseph Smith's day compared with present understanding. Here he begs the question by assuming that the connections apologists have made between the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica are sound.
According to Christensen, the environmental approach will never achieve "comprehensive adequacy" until it can produce pre-1830 parallels to the "93 Mesoamerican cultural traits cited by John L. Sorenson's paper, 'The Book of Mormon as a Mesoamerican Codex'" (220).(2) Actually, Sorenson's 1976 essay details sixty-eight(3) cultural traits common to Mesoamerica, the ancient Near East, and the Book of Mormon. Lacking in scholarly analysis and rigor, Sorenson's presentation is a mere shopping list of parallels that more often than not bear the heavy hand of manipulation and contrivance. "The most astonishing aspect of these comparisons," Stan Larson has observed, "is how Sorenson sometimes distorted and de-Christianized the Book of Mormon theology in order to make his parallels fit."(4)
For example, many LDS will be surprised to learn that the Nephites believed that "[t]he cosmos was considered to be formed in layered fashion with multiple realms above, the earth's surface between, and one or more underworlds."(5) For evidence of "multiple realms," Sorenson references the Book of Mormon's use of plural "heavens," such as Lehi's seeing "the heavens opened" (1 Ne. 1:8), which has a parallel to Acts 7:56. Larson points out that "in the Book of Mormon 'heaven' and 'heavens' are used synonymously and in one of the passages Sorenson cites it is specifically stated that 'the heavens [pl.] is a place [sing.] where God dwells' (Alma 18:30)."(6) To show a belief in the "underworlds," Sorenson refers to the Book of Mormon's use of "depths of hell" and "down to hell," both of which have parallel phrases in the Bible (compare 1 Ne. 12:16, 14:3 with Prov. 9:18; Job 11:8). While such Book of Mormon passages have links to the Near East through the Bible, neither the Bible nor the Book of Mormon can be linked to the Mayan religion, which is more complex than Sorenson lets on. The Maya believed the earth rests on the back of a huge alligator, that there are thirteen horizontal levels of the heavens, each one of which has a certain god residing, and nine underworlds ruled by nine lords of the night.(7) Of course, these ideas are foreign to the Book of Mormon, which is better understood in the context of early American Protestant theology.
Other traits cited by Sorenson, such as "cults of great complexity" (meaning secret societies), "ceremony and ritual were of very great importance," and "rivalry between ethnic and/or cultic groups," for example, appear in any culture and are not specifically Mesoamerican, Near Eastern, or Book of Mormon. R. C. Padden noted this weakness in diffusionist evidences in his 1973 critique: "[D]oes not the existence of the trait outside the problem area invalidate the premise of diffusion within it?"(8)
Actually, Sorenson's cultural parallels had been previously presented in a non-Mormon forum, minus the Book of Mormon material of course.(9) In 1971 Man Across the Sea presented the theories of several diffusionists, including Sorenson's comparisons between the ancient Near East and Mesoamerica. Unlike his later presentation to Mormons, Sorenson was candid about the significance and weakness of his evidence, stating that since hard evidence is lacking, "we must make do with comparative evidence, which is less discrete and more ambiguous and which, therefore, some critics will doubt."(10) Despite Christensen's Kuhnian characterization of the scientific establishment, Sorenson's "critics" were not only traditionalists but also included other leading diffusionists. Carroll L. Riley, one of the editors of Man Across the Sea, said: "I do not think that Sorenson's trait similarities can be taken as evidence (at least not in the sense of hard evidence)."(11) Gordon F. Ekholm, one of the contributors to Man Across the Sea, frankly states: "Generally speaking, I have not found the evidence for possible direct contacts between the Near East and the Americas very convincing. ... Sorenson's article is interesting enough but it is a mixture of things that may be important as evidence and others that are not important."(12)
Sorenson claims that his comparisons between Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon are no different than William F. Albright's comparisons between the Old Testament and ancient Near East. However, Albright was not trying to prove historicity, but rather comparing the Old Testament to its undisputed Near Eastern background. As we have seen, there is nothing compelling about Sorenson's evidence; in fact, it is of the weakest kind.
Christensen criticizes my suggestion that the Liahona, a compass-like instrument given to Lehi in the Arabian desert, be understood in the context of early nineteenth-century debates about the mariner's compass, specifically the lack of a compass and the impossibility of crossing the ocean without one. Christensen believes that Hugh Nibley's comparison to the ancient Near Eastern practice of belomancy, or the use of divining arrows, is closer to the Book of Mormon's description. I disagree. The Book of Mormon itself interprets Liahona as meaning "a compass" (Al. 37:38). Its general appearance -- a brass ball with two "spindles" -- is compass-like. Why two spindles? One "pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness," but what did the other do? Some compasses have two pointers, one magnetic to point north and another to point the direction of travel. Note that there are no directions in the Book of Mormon before Lehi gets his compass but afterwards becomes very precise when describing directions: i.e., "nearly a south-southeast direction" (1 Ne. 16:13); "nearly eastward" (17:1).
But, as Christensen points out, the Liahona had other qualities not consistent with an ordinary compass. Nephi remarks that occasionally writing appeared on both the ball's surface as well as on the pointers, and that the writing "gave us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord" (1 Ne. 16:26-27, 29). Nephi also states that "the pointers which were in the ball ... did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them" (16:28). While this is different than an ordinary compass, it is also inconsistent with Nibley's comparison to the Near Eastern practice of belomancy, or divination through specially inscribed sticks.(13) These divining sticks are not spindles, nor do they point towards the direction of travel. What Nibley describes is an ancient form of casting lots, or of drawing sticks. The writing on the sticks does not magically appear and disappear on them but is permanent and provide yes/no-type answers when one is randomly drawn out of its case. This is nothing like what is going on in the Book of Mormon.
Actually, Nibley's reference to divination may have application to the Liahona, although in a way not expected. The writing that appears on the outside of the brass ball from time to time reminds one of crystal gazing, while two sticks that point out directions is similar to rodomancy. Thus the Liahona may combine two elements from Smith's treasure-seeking days.
To further demonstrate my "strict environmental method," Christensen reverts to my introduction, wherein I briefly mentioned other nineteenth-century influences on the Book of Mormon, such as its anti-Masonic description of "secret combinations," its anti-Catholic interpretation of the "Great Whore" and "Mother of Harlots and Abominations" in Revelation 17, and its anti-Universalist stance against those who believe they will be saved despite their disobedience to the commandments. Of course, a full defense of these interpretations is beyond my purpose here, but I will make brief comments.
Prior to Christensen's 1990 review I presented my views on anti-Masonry in "Mormonism's `Anti-Masonick Bible,'" John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 9 (1989): 17-30, which has yet to receive adequate response from Mormon apologists. Not that they did not try, but the one review that did appear, Daniel C. Peterson, "Notes on `Gadianton Masonry,'" Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin, eds., Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co.; and Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1990), 174-224, did not deal with the issues of my essay. A full examination of apologetic responses to the anti-Masonic interpretation of the Book of Mormon is forthcoming in "Echoes of Anti-Masonry: A Rejoinder," in American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon, ed. Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City: Signature Books).
While Nephi's "great and abominable church" has traditionally been interpreted as a reference to the Roman Catholic church, Christensen references Stephen E. Robinson, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, who has argued that Catholicism does not appear until after the events described by Nephi.(14) However this may be, Nephi's description is based on Revelation 17-18, which many Protestants in Smith's day interpreted as a reference to the Latin or Roman church and its successor the Roman Catholic church. Commenting on the "great whore" in Revelation 17, Adam Clarke, for instance, expressed the typical Protestant interpretation when he said: "No doubt can now be entertained that this woman is the Latin Church. ... The state of the Latin Church from the commencement of the fourteenth century to the time of the Reformation may be considered that which corresponds to this prophetic description in the most literal and extensive sense of the words; for during this period she was at her highest pitch of worldly grandeur and temporal authority."(15) On 12 March 1825, the New York Telescope reported: "Our clergy call the church of Rome `Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.'"
Regarding anti-Universalism, I presented my views more fully after Christensen's review in "Anti-Universalist Rhetoric in the Book of Mormon," in New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, ed. Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), 21-52, which received several weakly reasoned responses, including one from Christensen, wherein he made the following confession:
Of all the things Dan Vogel could have selected to mention about my response to a previous book [Indian Origins], he selects only one point of mine to criticize (this time, at least) -- a point I confess I made rather weakly, regarding his identification of Corianton as a Universalist. At the time I had made no background reading in Universalism, but was skeptical of Vogel's certitude and grounds for such an identification as a comprehensive explanation. Vogel builds his entire article for New Approaches on an identity between contemporary debates about Universalism and the Book of Mormon. Having recently done some reading about Universalism, I now better understand the grounds for his identification, but remain skeptical with respect to the comprehensive explanation.(16)
I will take this as an encouraging sign of progress and look forward to further dialogue on this subject.
Finally, Christensen appeals to Blake Ostler's "expansion" hypothesis as a "model of comprehensiveness" (223).(17) Ostler admits the presence of nineteenth-century ideas and sources in the Book of Mormon but attempts to explain them away by suggesting that they are Joseph Smith's inspired "expansion" of an ancient source. Ostler has only taken B. H. Roberts's conceptual translation theory a step further to include non-biblical sources. However, both theories are nothing more than an ad hoc hypothesis designed to save the Book of Mormon from adverse evidence. Ostler has introduced what I call the "shrinking plates" hypothesis, meaning the more we learn about Joseph Smith's environment, the smaller the plates have to be to contain the original source upon which Smith expanded. I am not sure how Ostler's theory can accommodate the Mound Builder myth, however. Needless to say, neither Ostler nor Christensen broach that subject.
Assumption #2: The Nephites are Mound Builders revisited.
Christensen merely asserts that my "assumption" that the Nephites were Mound Builders "seems inadequately grounded" without giving specific reasons (224). Since he knows that "Vogel spends most of his time on the rise and demise of the Mound Builder myth and portrays the Book of Mormon as a response to that myth," one would expect something more substantial.
Christensen also accuses me of misrepresenting Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews and Solomon Spalding's Manuscript Found. Here again he merely asserts that those familiar with these books "will detect a retroactive selectivity in Vogel's descriptions of their contents" (224). The Mound Builder myth does not derive from misreadings of Ethan Smith and Solomon Spalding, but from a host of other sources. The Mound Builder myth is real and any impartial reader can see the similarity it has to the Book of Mormon's historical premise. Moreover, there is nothing the apologists can bring forward from Mesoamerica as striking as the Mound Builder myth.
Moving from assertion to irrelevancy, Christensen employs Richard Bushman's discussion of Abner Cole's 1830 satire on the Book of Mormon called the "Book of Pukei." According to Bushman, Cole added "commonplace symbols of the Indians -- the bark canoes, the blankets and moccasins, decimation by smallpox -- [that] should have been in the story but for some reason were not. In their absence Cole fabricated them himself. ... Cole made the book comprehensible by adding all the elements Palmyra readers expected and were disappointed to find missing."(18) Cole was not trying to make the Book of Mormon more comprehensible, but more laughable. Nor was he adding elements that should have been in the story, for most of these elements were not part of the Mound Builder myth. In fact, Cole does not describe the Book of Mormon's contents in terms of the Myth, but rather according to his own imagination. The pertinent part of his satire reads:
Knowest thou not that this same apostle [Mormon] to the Nephites conducted that pious people, who could not abide the wickedness of their brethren, to these happy shores in bark canoes, where after fighting with their brethren the Lamanites, a few hundred years, became wicked themselves, when God sent the smallpox among them, which killed two-thirds of them, and turned the rest into Indians?(19)
Cole does just as much violence to the Mound Builder myth as he does to the Book of Mormon. Clearly this is not what Joseph Smith's contemporaries expected to be in the story. On the other hand, the Book of Mormon does include some of what Bushman calls "commonplace symbols of the Indians," symbols the apologists have been eager to denounce. Enos 1:20, for example, describes the Lamanites as "feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven." Regardless, neither Christensen nor Bushman address the major features of the Mound Builder myth and their obvious similarity to the Book of Mormon's historical framework: a white race being destroyed by the Indians in the Great Lake Region.
Assumption #3: The Wentworth letter is an accurate guide to the text.
Admitting that Joseph Smith's 1842 letter describes the contents of the Book of Mormon in terms of the Mound Builder myth, Christensen argues that Joseph Smith's reading of the Book of Mormon was faulty -- and not only the Mormon prophet but also several generations of Mormon interpreters misunderstood the Book of Mormon's contents until twentieth-century apologists corrected them. Drawing on the highly specialized (i.e., ad hoc) and convoluted interpretations of John L. Sorenson and others at BYU's FARMS, Christensen attempts to distinguish the Book of Mormon from the Mound Builder myth, objecting to each element of Smith's 1842 description of the Book of Mormon. Much of Christensen's criticism of Indian Origins therefore depends on the success of the Limited Tehuantepec Theory of Book of Mormon geography. The important question here is: which fits the text of the Book of Mormon better (i.e., with the least elaboration and fewest specialized interpretations), without regard to external historical realities: traditional hemispheric geography or the new Limited Tehuantepec Theory? I will argue that Joseph Smith had an accurate understanding of the Book of Mormon, although today it would be difficult to maintain as true history, and that the apologists distort and contort the text to conform to what they believe is a more reasonable approximation of real history. Despite Christensen's discussion on shifting paradigms and scientific revolutions, the Limited Geography Theory has not borne fruit in the scientific sense because the Book of Mormon remains a useless guide to our understanding of ancient civilizations in the New World. Indeed, as I have already stated, apologists have found nothing in ancient Mesoamerica as striking as the similarities between the Book of Mormon and the Mound Builder myth. I will now consider each of Christensen's criticisms of Joseph Smith's 1842 letter.
1. Joseph Smith was wrong when he said the Book of Mormon is "the history of ancient America."
Christensen sides with Sorenson's depiction of the Book of Mormon as a "lineage history,"(20) which Christensen describes as being "selectively concerned with events of interest to a particular line" (226). True, the Book of Mormon is an abridgement that follows Lehi's descendants upon the throne and in the pulpit, but these men ruled and presided over a people who "did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east" (Hel. 3:8). Regardless of one's position on geography, the Book of Mormon is not exclusively a lineage history any more than a history that focuses on the presidency and Washington government is not a history of America. Joseph Smith described the Book of Mormon as "the history of ancient America" because, as he goes on to explain, it gives an account of its "first settlement" by the Jaredites as well as its resettlement by the Lehites.
2. Joseph Smith was wrong when he said that the Jaredites were the first settlers of America.
This denial is necessary to accommodate the earlier settlement of America by Mongolians via the Bering Straits. Christensen rejects the idea that the Jaredites repopulated America after the flood, arguing that "Ether says nothing about the New World being uninhabited, let alone barren of life" (227). Knowledge of prior and continuous Mongolian settlement of America forces Christensen to reject the notion of a universal flood and to become minimalistic in his interpretation of Ether. He questions whether the statement in Ether 13:2 -- "that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land [of America] it became a choice land above all others" (compare Gen. 8:13) -- refers to the "waters from the Noah flood or from the creation?" He suggests that "Ether is ambiguous" (227). This prepares the ground for his rejection of the universal flood, which he bases on an erroneous interpretation of Moses 7:52.
In Smith's 1830 revelation, God promises Enoch that "a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations" (Moses 7:52). From which Christensen asserts: "[a] remnant would hardly be described as 'found among all nations' if the remnant [i.e., Noah, a descendant of Enoch] comprised all nations" (227). Thus Christensen sees the prediction as stating that after the flood Enoch's seed, through Noah, will become a remnant scattered among all nations, which implies that the flood was not universal. However, Christensen misreads this passage since the promise was made to Enoch many centuries before the flood. Enoch "saw Noah, and his family; that the posterity of all the sons of Noah should be saved with a temporal salvation" (7:42); he was moved to ask God, "that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods" (7:50). God covenanted with Enoch that "he would stay the floods," and promised him that "a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand" (7:51, 52). This promise simply states that among his numerous seed, only a remnant, Noah and his family, will survive the flood to repopulate the earth and become "many nations," and that this "remnant of his seed" will never be destroyed while the earth stands. In fact, the prediction that Enoch's seed will "always be found among all nations" presupposes a universal flood since a partial flood would invalidate the prediction. In other words, if all nations did not trace their origin back to Noah, the prediction would be false. Thus in his attempt to escape the implications of a universal flood and the Jaredite repopulation of the New World, Christensen has found himself at the end of a dilemma. Either the flood was universal and the prediction true, or the flood was partial and the prediction false. Moreover, to make his interpretation of Moses 7:52 meaningful, Christensen would have to show that the Amerindians were related to Enoch, which he does not do.
Rather than trying to contort the Book of Mormon and unrelated texts of Joseph Smith's revelations to fit current understandings, it would be much easier to simply admit that the receding waters of Ether 13:2 refer to the flood and concede that Joseph Smith's statement that America was first settled by the Jaredites is consistent with the text.
Christensen doubts that the animals gathered by the Jaredites were for repopulating the New World because it is not expressly stated, "Nowhere does Ether describe the animals on the Jaredite barges as necessary for repopulating an uninhabited world" (227). While a story may not always complete itself or leave the obvious unexpressed, there are plenty of hints. Ether 2:1-3 says that they prepared for their trip by gathering "male and female, of every kind" as well as "seeds of every kind." Also note that the Jaredites needed eight barges rather than a single ship like the Lehites. To turn Christensen's argument on its head, the text says nothing about the Jaredites finding the New World teaming with animals, vegetables and fruits, let alone inhabited by other peoples. Christensen is not troubled by this silence, however, excusing it on grounds of the record's brevity. Thus Christensen gets himself into a precarious position when he demands that the text be more explicit about the purpose of carrying an enormous cargo of animals and seeds to the New World, and then within the same paragraph blames brevity for the record's silence with regard to non-Jaredite peoples.
3. Joseph Smith was wrong when he said the Jaredites "came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages."
Christensen argues that the Jaredites "did not come from the confusion of tongues at the Tower, but from the confounding of their languages" (227). He quotes Hugh Nibley's definition of "confound" as meaning "to pour together" or "to mix up together."(21) To support this definition, Nibley refers to the prediction in Ether 13:8 that the Indians will gather to the New Jerusalem and "shall no more be confounded," which he interprets as "meaning mixed up with other people culturally, linguistically, and other wise."
Christensen does not fully explain how he applies Nibley's definition to his criticism of Joseph Smith's use of the word "confusion." If he merely wants to quibble about the use of words, then he is wasting our time because referring to Babel as the "confusion of tongues" was and still is common. But if he wishes to imply that either the Jaredites or Lehites "mixed" with the Mongolians, his use of Nibley is strained to say the least. The book of Ether states that the Jaredites were "not confounded" (Eth. 1:33-35), and therefore according to Nibley's definition did not mix with other peoples. Ether 13:8 refers to the last days after Native Americans had been scattered and "confounded" by European settlement (see also 1 Ne. 14:2; 15:20; 22:5, 7; 22:22). Lehi's blessing on his sons speaks of preserving America for his posterity and that the land would not be "overrun" by other nations until after his seed should "dwindle in unbelief" (2 Ne. 1).
4. Joseph Smith was wrong when he said ancient America was "inhabited by two distinct races of people."
Christensen criticizes Smith's statement as too simplistic. Of course Smith was giving a one-paragraph summary of the Book of Mormon's contents, so it is understandable that he mentions only the Jaredite and Lehite migrations. The Mulekites, who also came from Jerusalem, may have been more numerous than the Nephites when discovered, but they play a minor role in the Book of Mormon's plot line. Christensen wonders if the Mulekites were "exclusively Hebrew or of mixed ethnic background?" (228). This is a question for which there is no answer. However, the question only arises because of apologetic need to diminish the expectation of finding evidence of an Israelite presence in ancient America. Otherwise one would simply assume that a migration party originating in Jerusalem and headed by Mulek, one of king Zedekiah's sons, would be principally composed of Hebrews (see Omni 1:15; Hel. 6:10).
Christensen does not hesitate to bring to the discussion Mormon speculations that the Mulekites may have sailed with Phoenicians. This speculation is based primarily on two names that appear in the Book of Mormon, Sidon, the main river running through Nephite lands, and Isabel, the name of a harlot. Referencing Hugh Nibley, Christensen states: "Sidon brings to mind the Near Eastern seaport, and Isabel is the name of the Patroness of Harlots in the Goddess religion of the Phoenicians" (228).(22)
The Book of Mormon does not say who named the river, whether by the Mulekites or by the Nephites. Regardless, place names are hardly indicators of origin. Should we assume that Lehi's group included people from England because they named one city Bountiful? Was Nauvoo settled by Hebrews? Was Palmyra, New York, settled by Syrians? The Phoenician seaport was well known to Israelites (see Gen. 10:19; Matt. 11:21-22; 15:21; Acts 12:20). Place names might indicate influence, but not necessarily origin.
The same principal applies to names of people. My name is Daniel, but I am not Hebrew. Nibley offers no proof that "Isabel," not an infrequently used name in Joseph Smith's day, originated with the Mulekites. Siron was south of Zarahemla "among the borders of the Lamanites" (Al. 39:3). Nibley never explains how an actual harlot with whom Corianton commits fornication is related to Isabel, "Patroness of Harlots in the religion of the Phoenicians." Despite Christensen's use of Nibley, it appears that the "majority of the F.A.R.M.S. committee" prefers to link Isabel "with the Old Testament Jezebel who led Israel into idolatry or whoring after false gods, as the harlot Isabel does Corianton and those he should teach."(23) Because such connections are remote and merely speculative, they have no place in a discussion about historicity. Indeed, there is nothing compelling about such speculations.
Christensen takes every opportunity to introduce non-Israelite populations into the account. Was Zoram a Greek? he wonders. He does not explain the reason for this speculation, but it is probably an attempt to explain the presence of Greek and Greek-sounding names like Timothy, Teancum, and Lachoneus. He wonders if Ishmael's children all married Hebrews? Again, the only reason he is asking these questions is to minimize Hebrew impact on the New World and account for the lack of evidence for Israelite settlement.
Moving from pure speculation to outright misinterpretation, Christensen tries to link Mongolian populations to two Book of Mormon passages. Referring to the "many inhabitants who had before inherited the land" in Helaman 3:5, Christensen asks: "Must we assume Jaredites when they were not named and were not necessarily in the same location?" (228). The Jaredites are not named because they are nowhere named in the Nephite record before the book of Ether. Helaman 3:6 makes it clear that the Jaredites are intended when it states that the land northward was called "desolate ... because of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land." Are we to believe that there were two destructions?
Christensen's "not necessarily in the same location" hints at a specialized interpretation of the new geographers. Mosiah 8:8 states that the Jaredite record had been found "in a land among many waters." This area became known to the Nephites as Cumorah, which Mormon describes as "a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains" (Morm. 6:4). Because the record had been found by a Nephite expedition party searching for the relatively close city of Zarahemla, the new theorists postulate the Jaredite destruction occurred a short distance north-west of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Southern Mexico, perhaps near Tres Zapotes. However, Helaman 3:4 says that the migrants traveled "an exceeding great distance" into the land northward until they came to "large bodies of water and many rivers." This creates a problem for the new geographers, for, if the Book of Mormon says Cumorah is "an exceeding great distance" into the land northward, then it must be admitted that the expedition party had missed Zarahemla by a very great distance. The new theorists therefore have attempted to escape the implications of Helaman 3:4 by proposing two lands of many waters and lakes: one in the land of Cumorah -- which they say is the Papaloapan Lagoon System just west of the Isthums of Tehuantepec -- and another farther west and north in the Valley of Mexico.(24) If there were two lands of many waters, one would expect Mormon to distinguish the area of many waters in Helaman 3:4 from the more famous "land of many waters" of Cumorah. The creation of two lands of many waters is entirely ad hoc.
Christensen also misinterprets D&C 3:17-18 when he claims that it "speaks of seven lineages who would gain knowledge of the Savior -- Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Zoramites." And parenthetically suggests: "Mention of the Nephites here requires us to consider at least some Nephites as survivors of Cumorah" (228). While Nephite survivors of Cumorah has never has been a secret, for Moroni mentions that the Lamanites "put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ" (Moro. 1:2; see also 1 Ne. 13:30; 2 Ne. 3:3; D&C 10:48), this revelation does not speak of Nephite survivors let alone of seven lineages learning of Christ in the last days. Rather God states in this revelation that "the knowledge of my people, the Nephites, and also the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and the Zoramites, [shall] come to the knowledge of the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, which dwindled in unbelief, ... who have been suffered to destroy their brethren" (Book of Commandments 2:6).
Finally, Christensen refers to Lehi's prediction that "many nations" would "overrun" the land after the Nephite fall (2 Ne. 1:8), and follows Sorenson's suggestion that this could include nearby Mongolian populations.(25) However, Lehi's prediction quite clearly pertains to the invasion of European "Gentiles" and excludes the presence of non-Israelites in America. First, Lehi states that America is "kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance" (1:8). This cannot apply to the Mongolians, because they are already there. Next, Lehi then states that God has promised "that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. ... and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance" (1:9). Lehi's words include the Mulekites, but not the Mongolians. Finally, Lehi states that "when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, ... he [God] will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten" (1:10-11). This prediction very clearly refers to the coming of the European Gentiles. Nephi had previously seen this event in a vision: "I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten" (1 Ne. 13:14).
5. Joseph Smith was wrong when he said the Jaredties "were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem."
Mormon scholars have for some time speculated about Jaredite survivors, even denying that Coriantumr was the only Jaredite with whom the Nephites had contact. Christensen cites Mosiah 8:12 as evidence that the Nephites were aware of other Jaredite survivors. King Limhi expresses a desire to have the Jaredite record translated, "for, perhaps, they will give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people who have been destroyed, from whence these records came; or, perhaps, they will give us a knowledge of this very people who have been destroyed." Limhi's statement is one of uncertainty and speculation about the record's contents, and does not imply that he has any certain knowledge about a "remnant" let alone contact. Regardless, Coriantumr alone could qualify as the "remnant" that survived Jaredite destruction.
Christensen cites Nibley, Sorenson, and John Tvedtnes as providing "textual evidences of Jaredite contributions to the Nephite story" (229). However, Sorenson and Tvedtnes do little more than repeat Nibley's evidence.(26)
Sorenson appeals to Nibley's discussion of "Jaredite survivors" because he knows that Pre-Classic Maya, whom he identifies with the Nephites, had substantial contact with the Olmec, whom he identifies with the Jaredites. Sorenson therefore argues that "Jaredite contributions to the later peoples were substantial, in just about the manner and degree we have the Olmec tradition continuing into the post-Olmec era."(27) Here we have a good example of an apologist contorting the Book of Mormon to fit what he knows about Mesoamerican history.
Prior to Mosiah's translation of Jaredite record, the presence of ruins and bones in the land northward was a complete mystery to the Mulekites and Nephites (Mos. 8). If there had been contact with Jaredite survivors and cultural exchange, there would have been no mystery to solve. Mulekite contact with Coriantumr is described as a singular event. Although he lived but a short time among the Mulekites, he left a record engraved in a "large stone," although no one until Mosiah could read it (Omni 1:20-21). If there had been substantial contact and cultural exchange, one of the other Jaredite survivors could have translated Coriantumr's record for them. Or, perhaps, the Mulekites could have learned the Jaredite language and read it for themselves, just as they subsequently learned the Nephite language (see Omni 1:18).
Mormon apologists must also escape the implications of Ether's prophecy to Coriantumr: "if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people -- Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken receiving the land for their inheritance. ... and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr" (Eth. 13:20-21). Christensen argues that Jaredite survivors "were not of Coriantumr's house and therefore not subject to the prophecy that every soul should be destroyed" (229). Linking the prophecy exclusively to Coriantumr's household is an extremely narrow interpretation, one which even Nibley would reject. "Every soul of what?" he asked. "Specifically of `his kingdom ... and all his household.'" Then he argued that Ether's prediction did not include "renegades of the kingdom."(28) But this assumes that all members of a kingdom are voluntary subjects.
Nibley's argument for cultural overlap and contact rests entirely on the presence of Jaredite names among the Nephites: Coriantumr, Morianton, Nehor, Noah, Shiblon, and Corihor/Korihor. However, if one considers the order of Smith's dictation, Nibley's "Nephites with Jaredite names" becomes Jaredites with Nephite names, which is a problem. Nevertheless, even if one allows Nibley's evidence, it still does not prove human contact between cultures, for the names may have come from the Jaredite records.(29) Moreover, Nibley's assertion that these "Nephites with Jaredite names all have Mulekite background and connections" and "[f]ive out of the six ... betray strong anti-Nephite leanings" is meaningless since, to Nibley, Nephites with "Mulekite background" are those that come after the Mulekite/Nephite merger mentioned in Omni 1:12-13, which means that all Nephites have Mulekite backgrounds and therefore can hardly be a distinguishing feature of these so-called "Nephites with Jaredite names." Nibley also argues that the popular Nephite name Moroni is derived from the Jaredite Moron,(30) but neither General Moroni nor Mormon's son Moroni were "anti-Nephites." Based on such flimsy evidence, Christensen overstates his case when he asserts that "on textual and linguistic grounds, we know they [the Mulekites] mixed with the Jaredite remnants" (228).
6. Joseph Smith was wrong when he said that "the principal nation of the second race fell in battle" and that the "remnants are the Indians that now inhabit this country."
Of course Mormon apologists are highly motivated to deny Joseph Smith's declaration that all Indians trace their origin to Book of Mormon peoples, especially since it is fairly easy to demonstrate the vast majority of Indians are of Mongolian extraction. Even Sorenson acknowledged in 1985 that "[s]uch Asiatic features as the characteristic eyefold, the pigmented spot at the base of the spine of infants, and a special shape of incisor are found in varying proportions among every Amerindian group studied. On the basis of these traits some biological linkage to Asia is safely assumed by every researcher who knows the materials."(31) Currently, genetic studies are making this "biological linkage to Asia" more secure.(32)
However, it was not without justification that Joseph Smith and other early Mormons associated the Indians with the Lamanites. After all, the Book of Mormon explains that because of their rebellion, God cursed the Lamanites with a "skin of blackness" (1 Ne. 12:23; 2 Ne. 5:21). Nephi predicts that the Lamanites will "dwindle in unbelief" until they are discovered and then "scatted and smitten" by European Gentiles (1 Ne. 13:10-19). That Nephi's description pertains primarily to the Indians in North America is clear since he goes on to describe the American Revolution (13:17-19). Later, Nephi describes the sectarian condition of the "many churches" among the Gentiles that will scatter the Lamanites, as opposed to Catholic conquerors of Central and South America (2 Ne. 26:14-15, 19). Nephi also predicts that believing Gentiles will "carry" the Book of Mormon to the Lamanites: "And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews" (2 Ne. 30:3-4; see also 1 Ne. 13:39; 15:13-14; 22:8; 2 Ne. 26:15-16; 28:2; 29:2; 3 Ne. 21:1-7, 26). Jesus predicts that if the American Gentiles do not repent and accept the Book of Mormon, the scattered Lamanites will rise up and destroy them (3 Ne. 20:15-16). The righteous Gentiles, on the other hand, will "assist" in gathering the Lamanite remnant to the New Jerusalem (3 Ne. 20:22; 21:23-24).
Joseph Smith's revelations assume that the Indians of North America are Lamanites. In conformity with Nephi's prediction that believing Gentiles take the Book of Mormon to the Lamanites, in a September 1830 revelation God instructs Oliver Cowdery to "go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them" (D&C 28:8). The same revelation declares: "I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites" (28:9). In another revelation given the same month, God declares: "I have given unto him [Cowdery] power to build up my church among the Lamanites" (D&C 30:6). The following month, Parley P. Pratt is called to accompany Cowdery "into the wilderness among the Lamanites" (D&C 32:2). In June 1831, Newel Knight is told to "take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites" (D&C 54:8). That these Indians are genetic Lamanites is made clear when they are also identified as Jews (D&C 19:27; D&C 57:4). These revelations also make it quite clear that the Indian tribes referred to as Lamanites were located, not in Mesoamerica, but in the territory just west of Independence, Missouri, specifically the Shawnees and Delawares. Needless to say, these Indian tribes have not a drop of Israelite blood.
Assumption #4: Mongolian ancestry refutes Mediterranean migrations.
Christensen argues: "The Mongoloid strain ... only creates conflicts when the Book of Mormon is presented as describing exclusive, homogeneous populations" (231). Most researchers do not discount the possibility of transoceanic crossings to the New World. What they deny is that these minor migrations had significant impact on Asian populations that came to America via the Bering Straits. In his review of Cyrus H. Gordon, Before Columbus: Links between the Old World and Ancient America (New York: Crown Publishers, 1971), and Carroll L. Riley et al., Man Across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971), R. C. Padden observed:
Non-diffusionists are increasingly willing to concede that from time to time there could have been accidental landfalls and shipwrecks that resulted in contact. What is lacking is any apparent connection between these freak finds and Mesoamerican cultural development. ... In spite of exhaustive research ... there is still no proof, no hard evidence on which to predicate pre-Columbian contact and diffusion from the Old World to the New or vice versa.(33)
The problem is that the Book of Mormon does not fit this scenario. Apologists would more easily defend the Book of Mormon if it described the Lehites as coexisting with Mongolians and playing a minor role in ancient American history. As previously discussed, Nephite culture is described as the dominant regional (if not hemispheric) culture. This Nephite dominance is acknowledged by Sorenson and others, who associate the Nephites with Mayan civilization. However, the descendants of the Maya are quite clearly of Mongolian extraction, not Israelite. Now that Mayan glyphs can be read, why does one not find Nephite names?
That the Amerindians are predominantly of Mongolian extraction creates serious problems for Book of Mormon historicity. The Book of Mormon makes no mention of Mongolian populations, and there is no evidence that Mongolian peoples had contact with Israelites. To escape the implications of this evidence, Christensen observes that among Amerindians "some groups are much less Mongoloid than others," and then speculates with Sorenson that "at some time in the past, certain peoples in America might have been totally non-Mongoloid" (230). While Christensen and Sorenson attempt to downplay biological links between the Amerindians and Mongolians, genetics is beginning to answer that question more definitively in favor of Asiatic origins.(34)
Assumption #5: Latter-day Saint traditions for geography take priority.
Christensen argues that Joseph Smith did not necessarily understand his own revelations. He goes so far as to suggest that Smith did not have a correct understanding of the Book of Mormon's contents, which was mistakenly colored by the Mound Builder myth. He concludes: "Vogel's efforts to tie his [hemispheric] geography to Joseph Smith are pointless unless he can also demonstrate that his geography is accurate" (232).
It would be pointless for me to refer to Joseph Smith if I did not also believe his views were consistent with the Book of Mormon. They were consistent because he wrote the book. I refer to the statements of Smith and other first readers to bring perspective and context to the text. I employ literary and historical criticism to help reign in attempts to modernize or create specialized interpretations of the text. One cannot ignore the exchange between a work of literature and its intended audience.
Assumption #6: A total hemisphere geography.
Christensen attempts to dismantle my evidence for hemispheric geography for Book of Mormon lands in favor of the Limited Tehuantepec Theory. When Indian Origins was published in 1986, I had also prepared a manuscript titled "A Preliminary Examination of the New Theory of Book of Mormon Geography," which I intended to publish as an appendix. For various reasons, it was decided not to include my extended examination of the Limited Tehuantepec Theory and to seek publication elsewhere. My response to the new theory of geography was relegated to a brief footnote, where I also mentioned my unpublished paper. Additionally, tapes of my 1986 and 1987 presentations at Sunstone Symposia on this topic were also available to Christensen. Nevertheless, he chose to respond to the very brief summary in Indian Origins without giving a hint that I had more fully developed my arguments elsewhere. In fact, some of his critique is answered in my essay.
Meanwhile my critique circulated privately and was cited several times in Deane G. Matheny's fine essay "Does the Shoe Fit? A Critique of the Limited Tehuantepec Geography," New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, edited by Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), 269-328. While Matheny's treatment was primarily concerned with Mesoamerican archaeology and history, my approach dealt with the Book of Mormon's text and its nineteenth-century setting. For me, it is quite unnecessary to debate with the new geographers about whether or not the Jaredites and Nephites were the Olmec and Maya if the Book of Mormon disallows the comparison in the first place.
Christensen responds to the following paragraph that appears in footnote 136 in the web version of Indian Origins, which reads:
First, Sorenson has been unable to overcome Mormon traditions regarding Book of Mormon events outside his limited area. Second, he has unnecessarily distorted Book of Mormon passages which do not fit his theory (e.g., Al. 22:32). Third, he has excused, minimized, or ignored contradictory evidence.
Christensen questions my use of early Mormon statements, stating that "[t]he key traditions have been scrutinized by F.A.R.M.S., and I would contend that they are secondary to the text in any case" (234). They are not secondary to the text when they are made by Joseph Smith under inspiration.
For instance, Christensen questions my use of Joseph Smith's inspired declaration that a skeleton found in an Illinois burial mound on 3 June 1834 was "Zelph," a "white Lamanite" who had died "during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites."(35) He references Kenneth Godfrey's essay, "The Zelph Story," published three years after my book, wherein he reviews the various historical sources and concludes that "those who try to support a particular historical or geographical point of view about the Book of Mormon by citing the Zelph story are on inconclusive grounds."(36)
While there are several sources of varying accuracy for Smith's utterance, it is really quite useless for apologists to resist this evidence by suggesting that Zelph was a post-Book of Mormon Lamanite. This is why I included Smith's 4 June 1834 letter to his wife Emma, which Christensen also mentions, but out of context. The day after Smith identified Zelph, he wrote that he and the other men of Zion's Camp had been "wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally 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 proof of its divine authenticity."(37)
Godfrey does not dispute the inspired nature of Smith's statement, but attempts to question its meaning, particularly as reported in the History of the Church, which he describes as Willard Richards's "blending" of written sources (primarily the accounts of Wilford Woodruff and Heber C. Kimball) and perhaps "oral accounts from some of the members of Zion's Camp," including possible consultation with Joseph Smith. Compare the edited MS History with its first publication:
Book A-1, pages 482-83
During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country,
Nephites, Lamanites &c.... the vision of the past being opend to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose Skeleton was before us<we had seen> was a white Lamanite, a large thick set man and a man of God. <His name was Zelph>. He was a warrior <and chieftain> under the great prophet Onandagus who was known from the hill Cumorah oreastern Sea, to the Rocky Mountains, His name was Zelph. The curse was taken from him<Zelph>, or at least, in part. ... He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during a lastgreat struggle with the Lamanites and Nephites.(38)
Times and Seasons, 1 January 1846
During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country, Nephites, Lamanites &c. ... the vision of the past being opened to my understanding by the spirit of the Almighty I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large thick set man, and a man of God. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Omandagus, who was known from the hill Cumorah or, Eastern Sea, to the Rocky Mountains, His name was Zelph. The curse was taken from, him, or at least, in part. ... He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.(39)
Godfrey is at a loss to explain why the crossed out portions and inserted material are ignored by the Times and Seasons editors. Obviously this portion of the Manuscript History was not edited until after January 1846. Godfrey should have realized this since he identified the inserted material as the handwriting of Wilmer Benson, who did not begin working on Smith's history until late 1845. Godfrey also knew that a second copy in Book B-2, pages 319-20, "apparently written entirely in the hand of Wilmer Benson,"(40) exhibits the same strikeouts and interlinear insertions. Book A-2 was not begun until mid-1845, which means that changes were not made in the Zelph story until much later than Godfrey realizes. The following conclusion by Godfrey is therefore false:
It is probable that Joseph Smith read what his clerks, Willard Richards and Wilmer Benson, wrote about this event for the History of the Church. Their manuscript accounts cross out all reference to "the Nephites" and to the "hill Cumorah." We cannot know on present evidence, however, whether the crossing out was at Joseph's instance or with his approval.(41)
It is more probable that the emendations were made after Smith's death and therefore without his approval. Regardless, the two main sources for the Manuscript History are Wilfred Woodruff and Heber C. Kimball, both of whom were present when Smith made his statement. Under the heading "May 8th 1834," Woodruff recorded in his diary:
While on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent, probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. ... Brother Joseph had a vission respecting the person he said he was a white Lamanite, the curse was taken from him or at least in part, he was killed in battle with an arrow, the arrow was found among his ribs, ... his name was Zelph. ... Zelph was a large thick set man and a man of God, he was a warrior under the great prophet <Onanagus> that was known from the hill Cumorah <or East Sea> to the Rocky mountains. The above knowledge Joseph received in a vision.(42)
While Godfrey questions the reliability of Woodruff's account of what occurred on the mound when the skeleton was discovered since apparently he was not present, he admits that Woodruff "almost certainly was a party to discussions that took place away from the mound,"(43) in the camp, where Smith made his statement about Zelph. As published in the Times and Seasons on 1 February 1845, Kimball wrote in his journal:
The same day [3 June 1834], we pursued our journey.--While on our say we felt anxious to know who the person was who had been killed by that arrow. It was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph. ... Brother Joseph had enquired of the Lord and it was made known in a vision.(44)
Godfrey struggles over Kimball's phrase "the last destruction among the Lamanites":
"Last" may refer to the final destruction of the Nephites fifteen hundred years earlier, or it may have reference to the last battle of Zelph's people, whoever they were. The battle was "among the Lamanites," which may mean between the Nephites and the Lamanites but may also refer to a battle of Lamanites against other Lamanites, if we assume that the Lamanites may have had prophets among them.(45)
Who was Zelph and who were his people? How likely is that Joseph Smith would describe prophets among post-Book of Mormon Lamanites? Or of "white Lamanites" after Book of Mormon times? This is where Smith's 4 June 1834 letter becomes helpful. Smith believed he and his men were standing on the plains and mounds of the Nephites, that they had picked up the skulls and bones of the Nephites, and that these things were evidences for the Book of Mormon. This conforms with E. D. Howe's 1834 report published within months of the return of Smith and his men to Kirtland, Ohio: "Smith ... prophesying or declaring that they were the remains of a celebrated General among the Nephites, mentioning his name and the battle in which he was slain, some 1500 years ago."(46) Godfrey is therefore wrong when he asserts that "the earlier accounts do not expressly identify Zelph with the Nephites, as do the later accounts."(47)
Levi Hancock remembered Smith saying: "... this land was called the land of desolation and Onendagus was the king and a good man was he, there in that mound did he bury his dead ... the last man buried was Zelf, he was a white Lamanite who fought with the people of Onendagus for freedom."(48) As mentioned in Indian Origins, the term "Desolation" is used in the Book of Mormon to refer to the "land northward," which is another problem for the limited geographers. Godfrey asserts that Hancock "makes it perfectly clear that he was not a firsthand witness to the primary happenings."(49) This is incorrect. Hancock states that he did not go onto the mound and was not present when the skeleton was found, but he was apparently present in the camp when Smith and the others returned with the bones, at which time Smith apparently made his remarks about Zelph. Hancock's statement "as near as I could learn" does not imply that he had not heard Smith's words, but rather pertains to what Smith had said that precipitated the visit to the mound. Moreover, Hancock's includes details absent from other sources, such as Smith addressing Sylvester Smith, which not only points to firsthand information but lends reliability and credibility to his account.
Referring to Smith's term "plains of the Nephites" in his 4 June letter, Godfrey expresses confusion: "Evidently these plains were in some respect associated with, or comparable to, the battlefields of the Nephites, but beyond that it is unclear what Joseph Smith meant by this expression."(50) Godfrey is confused because he wants to be. The balance of Smith's statement makes the meaning inescapable: "... wandering over the plains of the Nephites, ... roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones." When one interprets Smith's revelation about Zelph in context with this letter, the implications for the limited geography is not good.
While Godfrey quibbles about the slight differences between the various accounts of Smith's declaration concerning Zelph, they are in the main consistent. Godfrey attempts to take advantage of ambiguous language in some sources, but taken together the sources draw a clear picture. Motivated by concerns of the limited geography theory, Godfrey tries to explain away things he dislikes as faulty memory, while at the same time he inserts or strongly implies what he would like Joseph Smith to have said. And in this manner an otherwise good historian becomes an apologist.
The Zelph story is only one prominent example of how Joseph Smith and other early Mormons viewed Book of Mormon geography, a document called "Lehi's Travels" is another. This document very precisely traces the route that Lehi's party traveled through Arabia and then to the coast of Chile in South America.
The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship, they traveled nearly a south south East direction untill they came to the nineteenth degree of North Lattitude, then nearly east to the sea of Arabia then sailed in a south east direction and landed on the continent of South America in Chili thirty degrees south Lattitude.(51)
If the tradition is true that the statement is a revelation to Joseph Smith, the new geographers have a problem. Because the document is in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, one of Smith's scribes, some apologists have asserted without proof that "Lehi's Travels" originated with Williams about 1837, which Christensen uncritically accepts (232-33).(52) I have prepared a thorough examination of this document as well as the tradition that surrounds it titled "Early Church Tradition of Lehi's Landing in Chile," which is intended to appear on mormonscripturestudies.com. Aside from apologetic concerns, there is no reason to reject the early church tradition that "Lehi's Travels" is an inspired statement originating with Joseph Smith. Moreover, the claim that Lehi landed in Chile can be traced to sources quite independent of Williams. Ohio's Observer and Telegraph reported on 18 November 1830 that Oliver Cowdery publically declared that Lehi's party "landed on the coast of Chili 600 years before the coming of Christ, and from them descended all the Indians of America."(53) As one of Cowdery's converts, Williams likely obtained "Lehi's Travels," as well as other items on the same document dealing with the Book of Mormon, from Cowdery.
Christensen follows previous apologists, when he parenthetically adds that I include "a contradictory notice from the Times and Seasons that Lehi landed just south of Darien, 3,000 miles north of Chile" (233). The statement, which appeared in the Mormon newspaper Times and Seasons on 15 September 1842 during Smith's editorship, reads:
Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien [Panama], and improved the country according to the word of the Lord.(54)
Sorenson, for example, argues that this statement shows an evolution in Joseph Smith's thinking about Book of Mormon geography, and asserts that this statement locates Lehi's landing "about three thousand miles north of the point in Chile mentioned in the Williams note."(55) While it is not altogether certain that Joseph Smith authored the above editorial comment, it is apparent that Sorenson's reading is far too narrow. The statement that Lehi landed "a little south" of Panama is as literal as the parallel phrase that Lehi "improved the country." Lehi died long before any improvements were made "a little south" of the narrow neck of land. In fact, Lehi died before Nephi and the others traveled northward and built the temple in the city of Nephi, and Nephi died about two hundred years before the mass migration to Zarahemla, the heart of Nephite culture and civilization, which according to traditional geography was in the northern section of South America not far below Panama.
Christensen rejects my interpretation that Alma 22:32 describes Central America and Panama as the narrow neck. Christensen argues: "Vogel ignores the textual requirement for Cumorah to be near the narrow neck ... [and] ignores the internal travel times that require a limited-region theory" (233). Christensen and new geographers try to stand distance problems on their heads, turning them into arguments for a smaller geographic area for Nephite lands. Nevertheless, Panama fulfills the Book of Mormon's requirements for the neck of land and narrow passage with the fewest qualifications and least elaboration than the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Brent Metcalfe and I have included a detailed discussion of this in the introduction to our forthcoming book, American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, forthcoming ). In brief, Alma 22:32 (together with other related passages: Al. 63:5; 50:34; Morm. 2:29; 3:5) describes four features that are easily fulfilled at Panama but are extremely problematic for the Limited Tehuantepec geography: (1) the land southward is completely surrounded by water except for where the neck of land connects with the land northward; (2) it is extremely narrow, requiring a day and a half for a Nephite to traverse (120 miles vs. 60 miles); (3) an east-to-west line that touches water on both sides but not the "east sea" (Gulfo de Uraba is situated on the east side of the Isthmus of Panama); and (4) a "narrow passage" leading from the land southward to the land northward, which is militarily defensible (narrow neck = Central America to Panama; narrow passage = Panama).
Assumption #7: Homogeneity of text.
Regarding my reference to Enos's description of the Lamanites as half-naked savages (1:20), Christensen accuses me of implying that "all Lamanites of all periods and lineages and political affiliations fit that description" (235). This is completely false. I limited my comments to that specific passage, introducing it as follows: "The Book of Mormon's description of the Lamanites sometimes sounds like an exaggerated version of contemporary stereotypes about North American Indians." Christensen's reference to Sorenson's opinion that Nephite epithets "sound like Near Eastern epithets and `probably should be considered a literary formula rather than an objective description'" (235) is irrelevant.
Christensen's expectation that the Book of Mormon exactly duplicate the Mound Builder myth is too restrictive. One must allow that the Myth was adapted to the specifics of Smith's narrative. Smith was using the Mound Builder myth as a warning to Jacksonian America of their own immanent destruction should they remain unrepentant. The Mound Builders were not simply destroyed by their savage brethren, but God permitted their destruction because they had become wicked themselves. In this respect, the Book of Mormon is similar to the jeremiads of the early Puritan preachers. Also the Book of Mormon's history spans a thousand years of waxing and waning, not unlike how some nineteenth-century Americans viewed their own history.
Assumption #8: Pre-1830 discussions of Hebrew and Egyptian as adequate.
Christensen argues that my reference to pre-1830 comparisons between Hebrew and Native American spoken languages, and between Egyptian hieroglyphics and Indian pictographs, is inadequate. He cites Book of Mormon names like Paanchi, Korihor, and Ammon, which he believes are Egyptian-like, or exhibit what he calls "Egypticity." This kind of proof is really quite meaningless since they are not Egyptian names but Egyptian sounding names and hence rest on highly subjective judgement. Christensen here relies on Hugh Nibley's assertions, which have been seriously challenged by Edward H. Ashment.(56) As Ashment points out, Nibley relates the Egyptian name Paankh (p'-'nK) to the Book of Mormon's Paanchi, and Herihor (Hry-Hr) to Korihor, both of which are stretches to say the least. Christensen also mentions colophons, which are introductory headings, which is a practice that is neither specifically Egyptian nor particularly ancient.
Christensen also argues that my discussion of pre-1830 Hebrew ignores various works by apologists that find in the Book of Mormon "Hebrew names, festival customs, legal practices, and literary forms, such as chiasmus, prophetic lawsuits, and testaments" (236). I will leave a more detailed examination of these claimed Hebrew traits in the Book of Mormon to more qualified scholars like David Wright. However, I have begun to dismantle the chiasmus proof in a paper delivered at Sunstone Theological Symposium, August 2001, "The Use and Abuse of Chiasmus in Book of Mormon Studies." Even Welch and others at FARMS are beginning to admit that most of the evidence for chiasmus is contrived and ultimately does not prove a Hebrew origin for the Book of Mormon.(57) This study is still ongoing and hopefully will be made available to the public when completed. Despite various Hebrew traits apologists deduce from the Book of Mormon, there is still no credible evidence of Hebrew writing found in Mesoamerica. This remains true despite Christensen's citation of two wildly speculative FARMS papers: Allen Christenson's 1988 paper "The Use of Chiasmus in Ancient Mesoamerica"; and Bian Stubbs's 1988 essay "Elements of Hebrew in Uto-Aztecan: A Summary of the Data."
Christensen also refers to John Welch's argument that "none of Ethan Smith's proofs of Hebrew origin appear in the Book of Mormon" (236). This is another argument from silence, but it is better applied to B. H. Roberts's study of the Book of Mormon, which attempted to connect the Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews. I make no such case.
Assumption #9: Mechanical translation.
The next two "assumptions" deal with statements from my introduction and have nothing directly to do with my thesis and for the most part are contrived.
In a paragraph I explained that around the turn of the last century B. H. Roberts invented the conceptual translation theory to explain the Book of Mormon's anachronistic use of the Bible. Then I explained that Blake Ostler had more recently expanded Roberts's view to include nineteenth-century elements, including Smith's own inspired additions to the text. I did this to show how Mormon apologists were beginning to acknowledge the presence of nineteenth-century elements in the Book of Mormon and were formulating theories to accommodate new research. In the text of my introduction I did not make an issue of these apologetic devices. Only in a footnote did I alert readers to the fact that these new theories run counter to "early eye-witness accounts which describe the translation process as literal and mechanical." Christensen agrees that David Whitmer and Emma Smith described the translation as mechanical and literal, but speculates that their descriptions "were unduly weighted by Joseph's practice of spelling out the names" (236, n. 52). From this statement one might assume that Christensen follows Roberts in believing the translation was conceptual, but then he refers to chiasmus, Hebraisms, and wordprint studies, which he believes "support the notion of a very literal translation" (237). This touches on a current problem in Book of Mormon apologetics: attempting to use the conceptual translation theory to explain the Book of Mormon's anachronistic use of the Bible, while at the same time employing proofs that require a literal translation. Christensen's resolution is to side with the literal translation and assert that all anachronisms can be explained by a missing ancient document common to both the Book of Mormon and New Testament. This is simply ad hoc hypothesizing at its worst.
Assumption #10: Anachronisms.
Again Christensen takes issue with a minor point in my introduction, stating that I treat Book of Mormon anachronisms "as though it were settled and final" (237). The only mention of anachronisms I made was in reference to Roberts's motivations for inventing the conceptual translation theory. Roberts was attempting to explain why the Book of Mormon quotes or alludes to Bible passages supposedly not written yet. Since Book of Mormon anachronisms were not part of my discussion, I will not belabor the reader with a detailed response to Christensen's 9-page tangent.
Assumption #11: Investigation of historicity is useless, and the findings of such investigations are illusory.
Christensen rambles in this section, but its primary concern is my scientific, naturalistic bent: "Vogel may be looking at the Book of Mormon as a puzzle to solve within a naturalistic paradigm, rather than as a challenge to the assumptions of a naturalistic view, and an investigation to assess Alma's paradigm in Alma 32 towards a theistic faith" (247). Again another misuse of Kuhn.
Mastery of the Text
In the last section of his review, Christensen questions my grasp of the Book of Mormon, asserting that it is superficial. What he means by this is that I do not understand the Book of Mormon as colored by FARMS writers.
Christensen is particularly bothered by my comment: "The Book of Mormon actually gives few details of the observance of the law. It mentions temples but not the ceremonies, priests but not their robes or temple duties." Despite Christensen's reference to the works of various apologists, there is no explicit mention of specific points in the Mosaic law. He asks "whether we would recognize a temple ceremony if we saw one" (247), and then goes off on another 8-page tangent, drawing broad parallels between 3 Nephi's account of the destruction followed by Jesus' appearance and Mircea Eliade's discussion of the temple in Jerusalem.(58) Despite the fact that 3 Nephi is not a description of the Nephite temple ceremony, Christensen makes his parallels: Regression to Chaos, The Perilous Passage, The Suspension of Time, Three Days of Darkness, Humiliation of the King and Role of the Scapegoat, The Sacred Combat, The Symbolism of Light Coming into Darkness, Coronation, Sacraments, Baptism, Opposition in All Things, Recital of the Creation Story, At-one-ment, Initiation, Prayers and Prayer Circles. Christensen ends his scriptural excursion by criticizing those who insist on "approaching the Book of Mormon through a narrow contextual frame" (256). Because much of his discussion has broad similarity to the Mormon temple ceremony, Chirstensen states: "Dan Vogel overlooks many aspects of the text that emerge only through broader-based comparisons, appearing only for those with eyes to see and ears to hear" (256). Christensen is correct, my grasp of the Book of Mormon's text does not include such wild and undisciplined handling.
1. For a discussion of the ad hoc hypothesis, see Theodore Schick, Jr., and Lewis Vaughn, How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age (2nd ed.; Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1999), 155-165. This aspect of Book of Mormon apologetics will be discussed more fully in the introduction to American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon, ed. Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, forthcoming).
2. John L. Sorenson, "The Book of Mormon as a Mesoamerican Codex," Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology 139 (December 1976): 1-9.
3. There are ninety-three footnotes in Sorenson's article, but the parallels do not begin until note seventeen. Because nine of Sorenson's traits have no Book of Mormon sources, the number is reduced to sixty-eight.
4. Stan Larson, Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson's Archaeological Search for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Freethinker Press; and Smith Research Associates, 1996), 79, n. 101.
5. Sorenson, "The Book of Mormon as a Mesoamerican Codex," 1-9.
6. Larson, Quest for the Gold Plates, 79, n. 101.
7. See, e.g., J. E. S. Thompson, The Rise and Fall of Maya Civilization (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma, 1954), 260-61.
8. R. C. Padden, "On Diffusionism and History," American Historical Review (October 1973), 998.
9. John L. Sorenson, "The Significance of an Apparent Relationship Between the Ancient Near East and Mesoamerica," in Man Across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts, ed. Carroll L. Riley et al. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971), 219-41.
10. Ibid., 223.
11. Carroll L. Riley to Dan Vogel, 22 October 1980, in Dan Vogel Collection, Accession 1444, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
12. Gordon F. Ekholm to Dan Vogel, 7 November 1980, in Dan Vogel Collection.
13. See Hugh Nibley, "Some Fairly Foolproof Tests," in Since Cumorah, vol. 7 in The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley (2nd ed.; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; and Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1988), 251-63.
14. Stephen E. Robinson, "Early Christianity and 1 Nephi 13-14," in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, eds., The Book of Mormon: First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1988], 177-91; and Stephen E. Robinson, "Warring against the Saints of God," Ensign (January 1988): 34-39.
15. Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible ... With a Commentary and Critical Notes (New York: Ezra Sargent, 1811-17), s.v., Rev. 17:3.
16. Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 7/2 (1995): 201-202.
17. See Blake T. Ostler, "The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source," Dailogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (Spring 1987): 66-123.
18. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 120.
19. "Book of Pukei. Chap. 2," Palmyra Reflector (7 July 1830): 60, in Dan Vogel, ed., Early Mormon Documents, 3+ vols. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996- ), 2:236.
20. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1985), 50-56.
21. Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1952), 166.
22. Hugh Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, vol. 8 in The Collected Words of Hugh Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; and Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1989), 542.
23. Gordon C. Thomasson, "What's in a Name? Book of Mormon Language, Names, and [Metonymic] Naming," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3 (Spring and Fall 1994): 15. However, I prefer to link Isabel with Revelation 2:20, where God chastises the church in Thyatira "because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication."
24. Sorenson, An Ancient Setting for the Book of Mormon, 267.
25. Sorenson, An Ancient Setting for the Book of Mormon, 83-84.
26. See Sorenson, An Ancient Setting for the Book of Mormon, 119; John A. Tvedtnes, "Book of Mormon Tribal Affiliation and Military Castes," in Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin, Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1990), 306.
27. Sorenson, An Ancient Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1985), 119-20.
28. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, 242.
29. Nibley weakly brushes this possibility aside asserting that "people do not as a rule go to written histories for their names" (Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, 245).
30. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, 245.
31. Sorenson, An Ancient Setting for the Book of Mormon, 87.
32. See Thomas W. Murphy, "DNA, Genealogy, and the Book of Mormon," mormonscripturestudies.com.
33. R. C. Padden, "On Diffusionism and History," American Historical Review (October 1973): 997, 998.
34. See Thomas W. Murphy, "DNA, Genealogy, and the Book of Mormon," mormonscripturestudies.com.
35. Joseph Smith, et al., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, B. H. Roberts, ed., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1932-51), 2:79.
36. Kenneth A. Godfrey, "The Zelph Story," Brigham Young University Studies 29 (Spring 1989): 23.
37. Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, 4 June 1834, Letterbook, 2:57-58, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, in Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), 324.
38. Manuscript History of the Church, Book A-1:482-83, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City.
39. Times and Seasons 6 (1 January 1846): 1076.
40. Godfrey, "The Zelph Story," Brigham Young University Studies 29 (Spring 1989): 44.
41. Ibid., 47.
42. Wiford Woodruff, Diary, 8 May 1834, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City; Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 9 vols. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1983-85), 1:10.
43. Godfrey, "The Zelph Story," Brigham Young University Studies 29 (Spring 1989): 47.
44. "Extracts from H. C. Kimball's Journal," Times and Seasons 6 (1 February 1845): 788.
45. Godfrey, "The Zelph Story," Brigham Young University Studies 29 (Spring 1989): 38.
46. E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, Ohio: E. D. Howe, 1834), 159.
47. Godfrey, "The Zelph Story," Brigham Young University Studies 29 (Spring 1989): 42.
48. Levi Hancock, Diary, photocopy in LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City.
49. Godfrey, "The Zelph Story," Brigham Young University Studies 29 (Spring 1989): 46.
51. Frederick G. Williams Collection, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City.
52. Frederick G. Williams III, "Did Lehi Land in Chile? An Assessment of the Frederick G. Williams Statement," 12, 13, FARMS paper, 1988, published in John W. Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 57-61; see also "Did Lehi Land in Chile?" FARMS Update, July 1988.
53. "The Golden Bible," Observer and Telegraph 1 (18 November 1830): 1.
54. "`Facts are Stubborn Things,'" Times and Seasons 3 (15 September 1842): 922.
55. Sorenson, An Ancient Ameircan Setting for the Book of Mormon, 2.
56. Edward H. Ashment, "`A Record in the Language of My Father': Evidence of Ancient Egyptian and Hebrew in the Book of Mormon," in Brent Lee Metcalfe, ed., New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), 344-45.
57. See John W. Welch, "What Does Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon Prove?" in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, ed. Noel B. Reynolds (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1997), 199-224.
58. Mircea Eliade, Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return (New York: Harper & Row, 1959).