Question: Was the "week" unknown in ancient America?

Table of Contents

Question: Was the "week" unknown in ancient America?

Some New World cultures had a 7-day week

It is claimed that there is no concept of a 7-day "week" in the New World, and so the Book of Mormon's reference to "weeks" is an anachronism. In fact, some New World cultures had a 7-day week.

But, the Book of Mormon does not specify how long its "weeks" were--cultures have had variable lengths of weeks.

It is also unreasonable to expect that a later New World civilization would retain a Nephite calendar with religious implications.

In assessing whether any New World civilization had a 7-day week, Helen Neuenswander agreed with Eric Thompson that this was likely among the early Maya. [1] Such imitation of the Old World pattern is not as unlikely as it might at first seem, since the number "four" has great symbolic importance to many New World cultures. The lunar month of 28 days is easily divided into four weeks of seven days each, making such a unit of time measurement a logical one.

The New World used multiple calendars, and often had more than one calendar in use in a given civilization. (Even today Jews and Muslims have their own lunar calendar, which they use for determining holy periods of time, while still using and making reference to the 'secular' solar calendar.)

The Book of Mormon mentions weeks, but does not tell us how many days they contained. Only our own cultural biases lead us to believe they must be seven days long.

Even if the Nephite believers used a seven-day calendar for religious purposes (likely in conjunction with other calendars), that is no reason to insist that such a calendar must be known or wide-spread in later civilizations. If there was no longer a valid cultural reason for tracking time in this manner, then such a calendar could easily fall into disuse. It seems, however,


Notes

  1. Helen Neuenswander, “Vestiges of Early Maya Time Concepts in Contemporary Maya (Cubulco Achi) Community: Implications for Community,” Estudios de Cultura Maya 13 (1981): 125–163.