FAIR conference number two: John Sorenson, ‘Reading Mormon’s codex’

John Sorenson is famous for his work on Book of Mormon geography. He is a professor emeritus of anthropology at BYU. He is the author of more than 200 publications.

Says “Mormon’s Codex” will be his last major work. This is a new book, and his talk is a preview. For those looking for “evidence” that the Book of Mormon may have taken place in Mesoamerica, this book is for you.

The Bible shows some evidence that the writers were contemporary. “City gates,” for example, is time-sensitive and good evidence.

Sorenson identifies hundreds of correspondences that tie the Book of Mormon to Mesoamerican lifestyle and history.

First, must construct an internal map for the BoM. He calls it Mormon’s map.

Then, you must compare this map to the geography of the Americas. There is only one area in the new world that meets these conditions, Mesoamerica.

The isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrow neck. South is Zarahemla and the land of Nephi. The land north is the “land northwards.”

He identifies 25 pointed correspondences between map features and Book of Mormon lands. Precise parallels are found for all the major geographical points.

The hill for the extermination of the Nephites was likely a hill near Veracruz in modern Mexico north of the narrow neck.

He mentions many, many cultural and historical aspects of Mesoamerica that are supported in the Book of Mormon. Too many to mention here. But the parallels are fascinating and run the gamut from art showing Indians with beards to the lack of timber in the land northward.

He mentions sacred towers in Mesoamerica (and in the Book of Mormon) and mentions the existence of hundreds of miles of roads in Mesoamerica during Book of Mormon times.

In terms of government, there are significant similarities between the Book of Mormon accounts of government and the historical record in Mesoamerica. In terms of warfare, the available cultural history matches very well the Book of Mormon record.

In terms of religion, there are at least 380 correspondences between ancient Near East religion and Mesoamerican religion. This can only be explained by people traveling from the ancient Near East to the Americas. There are similarities in terms of the description of the fall and the description of the resurrection and the description of priestcraft. Ritual washing was also present in both, sacrifice was practiced in Mesoamerica. A form of communion was practiced in Mesoamerica.

In terms of archeaology and history, there are a large number of parallels. Too many to mention here. He discusses various historical periods. He has literally scores of correspondences. As an example, there is significant evidence of movement in Mesoamerica that correspond to the movements mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Another example: there is significant evidence of natural disasters and volcanoes that correspond with the Book of Mormon record.

Sadly, there is evidence of genocidal war in Mesoamerica that corresponds with the Book of Mormon record.

Sorenson does not believe that coincidence can account for all of these parallels between the Book of Mormon and the Mesoamerican record. He also points out that Joseph Smith could never have found these parallels. There is only one possible interpretation: the Book of Mormon was written by the people mentioned in the book. He believes new archeological discoveries support the Book of Mormon, and expects new discoveries will continue to support the Book of Mormon even more.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

5 thoughts on “FAIR conference number two: John Sorenson, ‘Reading Mormon’s codex’

  1. I was already looking forward to this book and now I really can’t wait. I particularly enjoyed his mention of how people would fight until they “drank the blood” of the opposing general. I really want to see his source for that. That is a pretty specific and evocative piece of evidence.

  2. BIshop Sorenson is one of a few, of my favorite Bishops, I have had in my life. An outstanding dear dear man. I have enjoyed his other book and look forward reading the new one. Thanks Geoff for reporting.

  3. Although the content of Brother Sorenson’s paper was great, the monotone voice he used in his presentation put me to sleep more than once. However, I bought his book Nephite Culture and Society and found it an exciting read. I had read more than half of it by Saturday evening, but I had to set it aside as I was getting brain overload. Will pick it up again today. I look forward to Mormon’s Codex.

  4. I honestly don’t get it. I’ve tried matching up the details Sorenson presents. Pay attention to the locations and the dates and the flow of events from the national geographic. There are just too many holes in making the story consistent with the BoM. The most important cities of the Mayas are in the wrong place for the BoM. Teotihuacan and the Yucatan peninsula make things all too awkward. I hope Sorenson’s book is published within the next couple years, to see if any of it is at all substantial, say when compared to the alternative stories from the sources he uses. =(. Then again, pay attention to the internal chronology and geography of the BoM itself and notice the difficulties that arise as you do so. There are too many problems, and there is too little information to make a strong case for much. ~1000 data points doth not enough data present, especially when dozens of them are vague or inconsistent (think about the dating of habitation of the city of Aaron by Sorenson’s designation, the years in which Moroni was defending the south-western borders versus the years Helaman was there, the year the Amlicites fled to live among the Lamanites versus the year they appear in the sons of Mosiah narratives [using Skousen's Amlicites = Amalekites], the location of the people of Ammon versus their involvement in the wars, the weird conflation of the 27th and 28th years of the reign of the judges in Helaman’s account, to name some I’ve seen). I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed.

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