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.