Question: Why have Church leaders taught a hemispheric geography for the Book of Mormon rather than a limited one?

Table of Contents

Question: Why have Church leaders taught a hemispheric geography for the Book of Mormon rather than a limited one?

"Traditional" interpretations of the Book of Mormon assume a hemispheric geography

Latter-day Saint anthropologist John L. Sorenson specifically notes that there is a difference between the "traditional" interpretation of the Book of Mormon versus what it actually says,

One problem some Latter-day Saint writers and lecturers have had is confusing the actual text of the Book of Mormon with the traditional interpretation of it. For example, a commonly heard statement is that the Book of Mormon is “the history of the American Indians.” This statement contains a number of unexamined assumptions—that the scripture is a history in the common sense—a systematic, chronological account of the main events in the past of a nation or territory; that “the” American Indians are a unitary population; and that the approximately one hundred pages of text containing historical and cultural material in the scripture could conceivably tell the entire history of a hemisphere. When unexamined assumptions like these are made, critics respond in kind, criticizing not the ancient text itself, but the assumptions we have made about it. [1]

Sorenson notes that critics make the same assumptions about traditional interpretations as Latter-day saints,

Among the criticisms of the Book of Mormon by archaeologists, the two most widely circulated statements (the late Robert Wauchope’s book and Michael Coe’s article nearly a decade ago) suffer from similar limitations. Both of these eminent scholars based their reactions to the Book of Mormon on the same unfortunate assumption that the Book of Mormon account is about events involving American Indians throughout the entire New World. Their conclusions were as flawed as those arrived at by some Latter-day Saints. [1]

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 John L. Sorenson, "Digging into the Book of Mormon: Our Changing Understanding of Ancient America and Its Scripture" (Part 1), Ensign (September 1984) off-site