October 16, 2009 at 6:01 PM 26 comments

The recent fall General Conference of the CoJCoLdS included a talk by Elder Jeffery Holland of the Quorum of Twelve that has reverberated throughout the Bloggernacle for its strong defense of the truth of the Book of Morman. One discussion over whether Apostle Holland’s defense excludes (and is even offensive to) those who view the Book of Mormon as “inspired fiction” that was posted by Andrew on Mormon Matters  has racked up more then 200 comments as of this writing. During the discussion, several people brought up the conflict between DNA evidence and conventional LDS apologetics as arguments against the historical interpretation.

Simon Southerton published a summary article of the DNA findings that shows how traditional LDS and Community of Christ apologetics stumble in the face of this evidence. (Thanks to Mormon Heretic for publishing the Southerton link and some additional Southerton comments on the issue.) The DNA conclusively shows that America was first settled by people who were separated from the rest of humanity approximately 20,000 years ago. The founding population contained 5 human haplotypes (denoted A, B, C, D and X) that imply clear association with a Siberian basis for the settlement.

Apologists for a historical basis for the Book of Mormon have tried to find ways to refute this information. My question is, “Why?” This is the kind of evidence an apologist would want to find to support a historical interpretation of the Book of Mormon.

What exactly does it take to make a MesoAmerican setting of the BofM (as favored by organizations such as the Neal Maxwell Institute –better known as FARMS) consistent with a statement that the BofM tells of “the ancient inhabitants of the continent and from whence they sprang”? In other words, in order to interpret the Book of Mormon as consistent with a 20,000 year ago origin for Americans?

Clearly this DNA rules out the origin of the Americans with any Hebrew less than 3000 years ago, but the BofM doesn’t just contain stories about the Lehites. It tells of an earlier people, the Jaredites. as well.

In fact, if you think about it, about all it requires for the Book to tell “from which they sprang” is that the Olmec civilization is descended from whatever first group of humans crossed into America (hard to avoid in any event!) and that the first part of Ether, the story of the Jaredites,  contains a later written telling of the oral traditions of the crossing.

 I find that to be surprisingly plausible, once you give up the chronology of the crossing as occurring around 3000 BC.

Note that the Book of Mormon ties the crossing to an event – the flood and resulting migration up the Babylonian river valleys – not a date. The date comes from a Bible chronology, which makes the chronology a Bible problem, not a Book of Mormon problem.

(Note that we already acknowledge this in Biblical studies when scholars date the destruction of Jerusalem according to Babylonian historical records; the Jewish chronology recorded in the Bible has the date almost a century and a half after its occurrence.)

There is pretty wide agreement in the secular community that legends of “megafloods” are widespread in human history because they are based on traditions of actual, memorable events associated with the rise in sea level as the world transitioned to the current interglacial. Ice sheets expand or shrink during an “ice age”. Rapid expansion drives human populations into warmer and drier, ice-free (such as southern Siberia) “refuge areas” and drives sea level down hundreds of feet. Warming and ice sheet contraction raises sea levels and lets the human population reoccupy the newly ice-free areas.

Archeology also first has humans showing up in America along the West Coast from 14,000 to 17,000 years ago and spreading along the entire coast very quickly, consistent with the possession of boats. And the DNA evidence says that the bulk of the population is descended from peoples who first show up in Eastern Asia and Siberia as early as 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, with another small component made up of a haplotype that originated in the mid-East (thousands of years pre-Hebrew) and then also spread rapidly from there shortly after the ice sheets melted. 

The location of “Babel” and directional clues within the Bible itself (i.e., the migration to Babel came out of the east) suggest the “megaflood” of interest in evaluating the story of the Biblical flood and the Jaredites of the Book of Mormon as a legendary retelling of an actual event is the flooding of the Persian Gulf, which is estimated to have occurred from 12,000 to 15,000 years ago.

The coming of this post glacial era is also known to have been accompanied by the development of vast lakes across the southern edges of the ice sheets in both North America and the Russian plain, of which today’s Great Lakes are mere remnants. One lake in Russis reached twice the serface area of the Caspian Sea.

This also fits the Book of Mormon account. The Jaredite saga tells of going north out of Babel into an empty quarter and then having to cross many waters by barge before they get to the ocean where they pause for a few years. The migration to the ocean is pictured as occurring in less than a generation; they are following their sense of a divinely-inspired quest, not merely diffusing into Eastern Asia in a random search for resources as earlier humans had. (See this Paleo timeline).

This pause is, interestingly, long enough to boost their population for the ocean crossing by having a bunch of children with the population already in the area – which may have been reduced in number to the single thousands. This is a highly clever way to pack maximum bodies and genetic diversity into a fleet with minimum demand on supplies. It weights the dice so that Siberian haplotypes can end up predominate among the Jaredites in the New World. And if the Jaredites take the children with them, they leave little trace of their own haplotype in Asia. They are simply passing through, not settling.

There’s also another interesting supporting twist in Ether itself. The beginnings of the Book contain a sequence of genealogies of 8-11 kings each, always in the form of A was the son of B, who was the son of C, etc.

Every so often, the language switches from “son” to “descendent”, and then the next genealogy starts. There is indeed room for a few thousand years of oral history to be lost in that word “descendents”, and plenty of time for the peoples to fragment into diverse tribes and spread over the hemisphere. The fragmentation begins with a split into two peoples – perhaps reflecting the fissures between the original Middle Eastern migrants and the Siberian “natives”?

Indeed, that whole portion of Ether reads like some later dynasty of the Olmecs trying to tie itself to the mantle of the ancient prophet who led the people to the new land.

Notice that the only prophet named in the Book is Ether himself. The dynastic kings generally don’t appear in the Book as sacred types who kept the tradition of passing down written sacred records beyond their public monuments (convenient since there is no record that written language goes back that far anywhere). Perhaps the great prophet who had the archetypical experiences with God is always called only “the brother of Jared” because Jared was written into the story later by a dynastic king trying to justify the dynasty, but who had no clue what the name of the prophet actually was to be called.

Ether saw all the Olmecs he knew about battle themselves into extinction. But the last battles read like ritual combat among the kings and nobles, with too few casualties for the full days of fighting reported – as if it was a series of single combats to the last warrior, with pauses for slaughter of the loser’s wives and children between bouts. Long before this the nobles in the capital would have lost control and communication with anything going on outside  the heartland, let alone maintained trade with cultures beyond the Olmec territory which had been developing independently (with varying levels of sophistication) for thousands of years.  Smart peasants would have fled outside the empire as order disintegrated, or hid themselves as did Ether.

Nothing says Ether knew everything going on everywhere on the continent. The destruction and loss of culture he saw made the prophetic point.

In fact, the Olmec territory extended to the jade mines south of what we generally think of as the strip of wilderness separating the Land of Nephi from the land of Zarahemla in the MesoAmerican model.

The BofM tells us when the Nephites/Mulekites met up with the Olmec ruins. What if Laman and company met up with and absorbed Olmec survivors in the  southern and southwestern Olmec territories first? That may have been the population edge that gave them power to drive the Nephites away from the land of their first inheritance and would account for how quickly and (amazingly to the Nephites) decisively the Lamanites’ physical type seemed to change. The physical type was already in MesoAmerica and just needed new kings to reorganize.

Sometimes apologists for the Book of Mormon just need to take “yes” for an answer and learn to love the DNA. The Mayans (Lamanites) in Central America would also be descended from the Jaredites in a historical MesoAmerican interpretation of the Book of Mormon, and Native Americans throughout the hemisphere would be their cousins.


Entry filed under: archeology, Book of Mormon, Community of Christ, evolution, geography, history, LDS, Mormon Scripture, Mormonism, natural history. Tags: , , , , , .


26 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mormon Heretic  |  October 17, 2009 at 12:39 AM

    So let me make sure I get this straight. You’re saying that the Jaredites and Tower of Babel are actually not 2000 BC, but more like 20000 BC? Then your next point seems to be that these Jaredites would not have had Mediterranean DNA, but rather Asian DNA, and that this Asian DNA would have been passed on to the Lamanites?

    It’s an interesting hypothesis, and requires a different reading of both the BoM and Bible. Am I misinterpreting anything?

    • 2. FireTag  |  October 17, 2009 at 1:41 AM

      Pretty close to what I’m saying, but with minor quibbles.

      The ability to date the magafloods is a bit better than the ability to date the time of DNA mutation, which is why the latter is usually quoted to only 1 significant figure. The haplotype changes are random events with about a 10,ooo year mean, so the DNA and the ice comings and goings are in good agreement. Certainly its the opening and closing of ice passages that produce the isolation of populations, and I don’t think Southernton would have any problem with the latter statement.

      In this interpretation of Ether, the Jaredites would have left Siberia with a lot of children with Siberian DNA and some portion of Mediterranean haplotype among them. The key is that the bulk of the founding population are children and the much longer time scale allows further geographic separation within America (if the eastern North American X concentration is NOT an effect of “modern” European contact) or to make X the loser in the genetic sweepstakes. I believe either Southerton or Book1830 points to both alternatives as “secular” explanations in the thread I linked on your blog.

      If you look on the comments for the Saint’s Herald thread I linked in the post, you’ll also see some discussion of why the boats Ether describes are a child friendly, adult minimizing design for passively crossing the North Pacific.

    • 3. FireTag  |  October 19, 2009 at 2:00 AM

      I should also point out that placing the Jaredite migration well before 10,000 BCE also materially reduces the problem of some of the “analmal anomalies” in Ether. Those references are associated with the OLDEST of the dynastic lines. Elephants (i.e., mammoths) were a major food source then, and the Pleistocene megafauna that went extinct after man got to America become candidates for the animals for which Mormon and Joseph Smith had no common regerent. Giant ground sloth anyone?

  • 4. MH  |  October 20, 2009 at 12:42 AM

    So FireTag, doesn’t this re-dating of the Tower of Babel present any chronological problems for the Bible as well?

  • 5. FireTag  |  October 20, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    Yes, as I said, the dating IS a Bible problem that literalists have to deal with. There is abundant evidence all over the planet of geophysical changes that predate the Biblical chronology — and it isn’t just biology.. The choices for the early events of Genesis are legendary, mythological, metaphorical or some combination — hot “current history”. The Biblical canon starts to mix in more historical events later.

    One point I try (not very well) to make on the Saint’s Herald thread linked in the OP in discussing BofM apologetics in the Community of Christ, is this: when God writes Scripture for a people who don’t care about science, He probably doesn’t bother with discussing the scientific details.

    But the Book of Mormon would have been written PARTIALLY with a scientific readership (modern gentiles) in mind, so it is perfectly reasonable that the BofM would not just be metaphorical in nature.

    I think trying to interpret the Book of Mormon with the literalistic scriptural worldview of the 19th Century still causes problems for intellectuals today.

  • 6. George  |  October 21, 2009 at 5:48 PM

    Here is another idea for the JarediteBarge – a catamaran hull -from “Pilgrims of the Pacific” by Butterworth.

    More interesting is the link between the shining stones and Noah’s ark.

    On the other topic, I know next to nothing about DNA, but I wonder if the “fact” that the Lehites are descended from only 5 persons would have an impact on their genetic remains when mixed in with a much larger population.

  • 7. FireTag  |  October 21, 2009 at 6:40 PM

    I want to do a little research about “Pilgrims of the Pacific” before I respond to that or the comment about the connection of the stones to Noah’s ark.

    But I can respond about the DNA impact of the founders now.

    At 3-5 generations per century, 20,000 years represents several hundred generations. The DNA haplotypes come from one mother, two grandmothers, four great grandmothers, eight great great grandmothers, etc.

    Now the same woman may fill a lot of the same slots in that tree — it’s hard to avoid some degree of cousins when you marry — but she doesn’t fill all of them. So the DNA does not mean that there were only five founding women 600 to 1000 generations ago. It only means that if one of those haplotypes wasn’t present in a Native American’s ancestry 600 generations ago, that Native American didn’t make it to the present.

    The founding population is believed to be small, possibly in the dozens (which is again about right for a small fleet and not a show-stopper for the Book of Mormon) and there can be significant founder effects in setting the relative frequency of the five haplotypes in the first few generations. But it was not just five women.

    On the otherhand, whatever genes came over with Lehi could easily be drowned in a sea of millions if Laman began intermarriage quickly. The haplotype markers deal with only a small fraction of genetics; if something else made Middle Eastern genes less fit for environment of Central America, children with the “wrong” genetics may still have died out, while the children already adapted by thousands of years preferentially survived.

    Thet would still qualify as “seed” in the minds of their parents; God wasn’t making promises to the prophets on the basis of a DNA assay.

  • 8. FireTag  |  October 22, 2009 at 5:57 PM


    Thanks for your patience in letting me take the time to understand your reference to “Pilgrims of the Pacific”. I was able to find a secondary reference on page 112 of “Book of Mormon — Inconvenient Truth” so I understand that the original Butterworth book assumes a South Pacific crossing rather than an Arctic crossing, and embeds within it the traditional Biblically-borrowed dating of the Jaredite crossing.

    The design you linked does look interesting in that context, but it brings us right back to all the problems with the DNA evidence and related archeological and geophysical problems indicating a much earlier settlement of America and timing of any megaflood that the Bible could be referencing.

    In Southerton’s paper linked in the original post, he briefly mentions a theory that the historical location of the Nephite story should be the Malay penninsula. The theory was discussed extensively in this thread, and the advocates of that theory strongly argued the difficulty of Pacific crossing by the Polynesian culture well after the proposed Jaredite crossing.

    I think another advantage of going with the Arctic crossing is that the journey from the Mid-east is so much shorter, a point that is often lost because we are used to viewing the earth through low-latitude-centered maps.

    For example, this map of Sorenson’s proposed route from Yemen to MesoAmerica makes the difficulty readily apparent. By comparison, take an interactive globe such as this one, and center it on the equator south of Hawaii. You can easily see that the total distance from the East Coast of Japan to the West Coast of North America (by drifting in the North Pacific Gyre south of the Alaska) is comparable to merely the last leg in the Polynesian scenario.

  • 9. MH  |  October 23, 2009 at 2:49 AM

    I had not seen that Jaredite barge link–that was cool! Where did you get that?

    FireTag, can you tell me more about the book you referenced above? I see it is a CoC perspective on the BoM. Is it more like Margie Miller, or your perspective on the BoM?

    Is there an online link to this Butterworth book?

  • 10. FireTag  |  October 23, 2009 at 11:36 AM

    If I’m correct that you are referring to “Book of Mormon — Inconvenient Truth”, it is a new book that reflects a “true believing RLDS” point of view such as prevailed in the Community of Christ a generation ago. It has a lot of sources of archeological information from that perspective going from the period of the 1960’s through today. I didn’t find it to be the best archeological info I knew about. I did find it to contain some better linguistic and “literary Hebrewisms” discussion that was better than I’d seen.

    I think it was more interesting, and more valuable, for its open acknowledgement of the debate about the place in the Community of Christ of the Book of Mormon. It is unabashed in its testimony of the truthfulness of the Book, the conflict over the Book between traditionalists and many church leaders during the last 40 years, and puts forth a position that the soul of the church is at stake over this issue.

    It’s not a Book that will necessarily convince anyone to change sides, but I think you’d find it interesting in the context of the furor over Elder Holland’s recent conference address.

    I think it’s safe to assume, Margie will not be offering a book endorsement.

    The barge drawings come from “Pilgrims of the Pacific” from F. E. Butterworth, written in 1974. George provided it directly from his own collection.

    George is a retired government scientist who has a fascinating collection of RLDS/Community of Christ writings going back 50 years or so, and has a better knowledge of statistical data (and has done deeper statistical analyses) for the RLDS than they may be able to put together today at World Headquarters.

    • 11. FireTag  |  October 25, 2009 at 11:26 PM

      George, I’m sorry if you think I overstated your credentials, but I’ve seen the raw data you gathered covering decades, the work you did to check its accuracy, and I know the sloppiness in the data sets the World Church puts out today with reduced resources.

      I think you’ll have to live with the praise.

  • 12. MH  |  October 24, 2009 at 2:01 AM

    Thanks for the info! “BoM – Inconvenient Truth” sounds like an interesting read.

    George, if you’re reading this, I don’t know if you’ve had occasion to read about that Jockers study comparing the BoM to the Spalding manuscript. I recently got my M.Stat, and haven’t done any wordprint studies. I understand it is based on Principal Components Analysis (and I didn’t enjoy that class!) I’ve only read the abstract, but I’m thinking about looking into the paper in more detail. From what I can tell, it doesn’t seem convincing that Spalding wrote it, especially with their sample size of 7. (see my latest post on the Spalding Theory.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to sidetrack the issue here. I’m interested in FireTag’s claims that the Tower of Babel could be older than traditionally thought.

    • 13. George  |  October 25, 2009 at 7:21 PM

      MH, you know more about this topic than I. Fire Tag exaggerated my credentials considerably –I’m a (now retired) mechanical engineer and my church related work involved “statistical data”, not statistical analysis — you just have to look at the graphs!

      I have not seen the paper you mention — I just have not been following it for quite a few years. What I want to get into is in the question of what is theologically valuable/useful in the Book of Mormon.

      My only observation is in comparing the Larson & Rencher paper in “Book of Mormon Authorship” (1982) to the Hilton paper in “BMA Revisited” (1997) a lot more data is used to demonstrate a smaller, but still important, point.

      • 14. FireTag  |  October 26, 2009 at 7:23 PM


        I also think that determining what is theologically valuable about the Book of Mormon trumps everything else about it. I just don’t see a way to resolve that question without taking a personal position about historicity.

        If I’m satisfied it’s a purely 19th century document, no matter how I come down on the inspired versus fiction axis, I have a VERY different view about how God works in the world than if I’m satisfied it’s providing actionable intelligence about the past. Because then it is most likely also providing actionable intelligence about what God wants us to do; it didn’t randomly wander through a hole in the spacetime continuum to get here (although that would also be extraordinarily interesting!). It would be purposeful in bringing the world to Christ.

        If I’m personally in-between, then I can act only on things that are useful (or at least harmless) under either eventuality.

  • 15. MH  |  October 24, 2009 at 2:08 AM

    (I decided to add a second comment so it doesn’t get caught in a spam filter.)

    Anyway Firetag, there is a guy who thinks he has figured out all the chronology problems in Chronicles/Kings parts of the Bible. I’m not sure if this relates to the Tower of Babel, but it could. He says the problem with biblical chronology is that the Jews used a lunar calendar, rather than a solar calendar. The lunar calendar is much worse, and when he runs his algorithm, it fixes the chronology problems. It’s called the King’s Calendar and can be found here.

    I’m curious what you think about it. I’d like to download it, but I already have spent too much money on books, and I have to put myself on a budget or I’ll buy too many things! Libraries are good, if you can find the books you’re looking for–now I want to buy the JS Papers Vol 1 and 2 (~$150) and I think I’d like to have this Jockers study too, but I don’t want to pay $28 for 1 day access!

    Anyway, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this calendar.

    • 16. FireTag  |  October 24, 2009 at 2:19 PM


      Just looking at the link, I’m pretty sure the author is offering a solution to the post-Exodus chronology problems in the Bible. It is interesting, but would not address the pre-Abram portions of the Bible, since the sectarian calander he proposes would have been created much later.

      The evidence that the ONLY great floods to have occurred in human times among widely dispersed cultures are associated with the melting of ice sheets is pretty overwhelming and comes from many different scientific disciplines. And the genetic evidence of great migrations is also linked to the ice. And those events are known to have occurred well before the traditional 3000 BC chronology of the Bible.

      So, if the events of the flood and the migrations have a real basis and are not purely metaphorical, we should be looking at the earlier period.

  • 17. MH  |  October 26, 2009 at 1:07 AM

    Yes, I agree with your conclusions regarding the King’s Calendar FireTag. It’s an interesting idea to contemplate that the Flood relates to the Ice Age. I remember reading something about Abram migrating from Ur (Kuwait) to Haran (Turkey). Do you think melting of the Ice Age could have influenced this migration? Also, what do you make of the ages of Noah and Abraham (120 years old) in relation to the Ice Age peoples? Do you think they really could have lived that long, or are those mistranslations introduced into the Bible by later editors?

    • 18. FireTag  |  October 26, 2009 at 1:26 PM


      What’s the line from the narrative Galadriel gives at the beginning of the “Lord of the Rings” movie? Something like “…times when history turns to legend and legend turns to myth.”

      I think the farther back in time we try to reach in understanding, the more our understanding of the physical becomes entangled with our attempts to discern spiritual meaning, so it becomes less and less possible to describe which side of the “veil” our cosmology is talking about.

      I’ve said in an earlier post, “Duality and Divinity”, that the same reality in physics can often be described in multiple, mutually contradictory languages, and I’ve suggested that this may be the case as well when we try to describe a single reality that we arbitrarily divide into “physical” or “spiritual”. There’s a place in the middle where things become so complikcated that neither simple description works very easily.

      There is good historical evidence for the cities of Ur and Haran at times much later than the ice age, but there are already doubts about whether Abram is an actual person, or a composite drawn from stories of several individuals. Noah may be even more an archtype drawn from long years of oral tradition shared among cultures with a common origin in the mid-East at the time of the “great melting”.

      Of course, this may also reflect a theological difference between LDS/RLDS traditions regarding the canonical status of the Book of Abraham as well.

  • 19. MH  |  October 30, 2009 at 1:08 AM

    When I’m talking Abraham, it is the Biblical Abraham I am usually talking about, so I don’t think there are any theological differences between LDS/RLDS or even Protestants/Catholics/Orthodox. I think he’s a fascinating person. To listen to Rabbi David Wolpe, he seems to place him in the age of ~ 2000 BC, and it seems that circumcision and child sacrifice was a common practice at that time. Now, perhaps these 2 practices were common 20,000 BC too, but I don’t get that impression from Biblical Scholars. All this talk of ancient Bible stuff makes me want to post on Noah’s ark! (As if I don’t have enough ideas already….)

    Yes, I’m familiar with the stories of Abraham’s travels, and he certainly seems like a well-traveled man. When we look at his beginnings in Kuwait, then travel to Turkey, then Egpyt, and the Bible ends with Israel. Muslims believe that he finally traveled to Mecca, Saudi Arabia (I’m not sure if that is in the Koran.) While I suspect the links between Mecca and Abraham are as tenuous as all the Biblical references, still it’s pretty interesting to see all the places he traveled without a car, airplane, or boat. (At least, I’m not aware of any boat travel.)

  • 20. FireTag  |  October 31, 2009 at 2:03 PM

    A post on Noah’s ark would be interesting, especially in light of the connections George points out between the lighting of the ark and the lighting of the barges.

    There is clearly enough similarity between the two threads of the tradition of the flood –such as the reference to “a mighty hunter”, the confounding of languages, the prophet who speaks directly to God, and the erection of a tower — to tease one about sorting out the history from the legends and myths.

    For example, the herds 10,000+ years ago would have been reindeer; the technology would have been stone, antler, skin, bone, sinew, and wood. People on the Eastern continental margin of Asia on what would become Japan were inventing pottery, so maybe people in the Mideast were making clay bricks. But they weren’t stacking them up in towers; cities wouldn’t come in the Mideast or anywhere else until about 6000 BC.

    So the common elements in the two threads retained after the earlier migrants left require something much less magnificant than a tower as the historical basis of the Babel story — or to Mosiah/Moroni exerting slight editorial control on details that didn’t match when the two threads got back together.

  • 21. Margie  |  November 9, 2009 at 8:19 PM

    “I think it’s safe to assume, Margie will not be offering a book endorsement.”

    You are so right. I have seen the book and it’s a re-hash of all the points we’ve seen for decades.

    • 22. FireTag  |  November 9, 2009 at 9:10 PM

      I thereby prove my own prophetic predictive crendentials, if nothing else. 😀

      You also prove the author’s statement that this issue is fundamentally about the direction (the “soul”) of the Community of Christ. The testimonies of a generation need to be read with a compassionate appreciation of them as testimonies of that generation, whether or not the denomination accepts them as normative in the future.

      LDS who face their own debates about the role of the BofM in their faith need to hear that their testimonies are still being echoed by many of their “prairie cousins”. My family has had strong testimonies of the truth of this work for three generations. My understanding of the work changes dramatically over time, and I can certainly have empathy for those who have no such testimony, AND EVEN FOR THOSE WHOSE TESTIMONY CONTRADICTS MINE.

      And the Community of Christ as a whole should certainly have greater access to the epilogue of the book describing the issues facing the Community of Christ as it forges a different sense of self than held by the founding generations.

  • […] previously posted an argument that many problems in interpreting the Book of Mormon come from carrying over the Biblical […]

  • 24. The Spirit of The Earth | Wheat and Tares  |  October 8, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    […] The goal of such an approach is not to prove, as a scriptural literalist might, that the scripture is “true just like they said”, but, rather, it is to look for meanings that neither ancient nor metaphorical approaches might recognize. Mormon scripture is particularly fruitful to study in this way, I think, because science has changed dramatically enough since the 19th Century for scientific errors to be glaring, but the 19th Century American mind and language have not changed so much that the world view in which the scriptures are written has become totally unrecognizable. I’ve previously posted an example here and another here. […]

  • […] have written elsewhere of how it makes sense for those who believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon to accept its […]

  • […] previously posted an argument that many problems in interpreting the Book of Mormon come from carrying over the Biblical […]


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