FAIR provides an “Ask the Apologist” service to which people send questions. In recent months many well-meaning individuals have asked why FAIR has not endorsed DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography, a DVD created and promoted by Rodney Meldrum.
Book of Mormon
Last night I attended another in a wonderful series of firesides hosted by the Olivewood bookstore. Tyler Livingston was also there and took good notes, so I will refer everyone to here. The speaker used his knowledge of Mesoamerican languages and interpretations of murals, stela, and other Classic period art to draw intriguing parallels with various passages in the Book of Mormon.
In my explorations, the first person to actually use the term pious fraud in conjunction with Mormonism was Mark Twain in Roughing It. Surprisingly, the reference was not to Joseph Smith, but to Brigham Young allegedly dressing up as Joseph Smith. This is Twain’s take on the narratives about assuming the prophetic mantle. More recently, Dan Vogel’s biography is essentially a book length defense of an earlier 1996 essay championing the pious fraud model as the most plausible solution framed by Jan Shipps in “The Prophet Puzzle:”
What we have in Mormon historiography is two Josephs: the one who started out digging for money and when he was unsuccessful, turned to propheteering, and the one who had visions and dreamed dreams, restored the church, and revealed the will of the Lord to a sinful world.
The Olivewood Bookstore in Provo has done it again! After February’s fireside featuring John Sorenson, for an encore they brought in another prolific Mawell Institute scholar, Daniel C. Peterson. Dr. Peterson did not disappoint, but if you missed it, don’t fret as it was captured on video and I have updated this blog now that it has been made available on YouTube. The event was well attended. John Clark and John Sorenson were in the audience. Bill Hamblin arrived late, but seeing that no anti-Mormon contingent had materialized to disrupt the event as they had threatened, did not stay long. I met a few personalities who I originally became aware of over the internet, but I don’t know if they wanted to be outed in this space.
Blogger and apologist extraordinaire Jeff Lindsay discusses John Clark’s 2005 FAIR Conference presentation, “Debating the Foundations of Mormonism: The Book of Mormon and Archaeology.”
Jeff, as usual, injects some good humor into his writing:
For this post, I’m not interested in getting dozens of the standard uninformed comments about how there is “no evidence for anything in the Book of Mormon.” And yes, I already know that there are serious questions about the evidence for horses, silk, metals, and iPods in the Book of Mormon.
I don’t know about iPods, but there is conclusive evidence that there are handheld electronic devices in the celestial kingdom. (See Revelation 7:9.)
John E. Clark of the New World Archaeological Foundation gave a riveting presentation that explored the origins of Mesoamerican civilization. Arriving late to the Spencer W. Kimball tower meant that I was one of the many that had to sit on the floor in the aisles. I am glad nobody called the fire marshal. From my vantage point I saw several young students diligently taking notes on lap tops, something I wish I had done for this report.
Dr. Clark began his lecture by observing that when the Spanish explorers encountered native Americans, they had no book like Genesis that could explain the origins of the civilization they saw. Clark defined civilization so that the essential component is that the community had a government that had authority to tax and put to death its subjects, usually in that order.
Arriving late at a venue whose existence I was unaware of until just a week ago, I joined a standing room only crowd to listen to the pioneering Book of Mormon archaeologist speak. The atmosphere at the Olivewood bookstore in Provo was electrifying for a student of all things FARMS like myself. There was nary a saccharine, fluff-filled book to be found on any of the shelves, in contrast to the typical fare offered at Deseret Book. Art depicting scenes from the Restoration riddled the walls and was a welcomed relief to the poor quality stuff I have been subjected to from a recently publicized antagonistic website. What caught my attention most was the very enticing Neil A. Maxwell Institute reading room.
There has been much talk both in publications and on the internet about the existence of two Cumorahs with relation to the location of the Book of Mormon culture.
It never ceases to amaze me that critics insist that the Book of Mormon read like a doctoral dissertation with an extensive introduction and massive references explaining all of the details relative to the culture and environment in which the history takes place.
Brant Gardner explains something about this in his introductory chapter to volume one of “Second Witness” He references Bible scholars who point out that our modern culture is what is called a “low context environment” culture. This means that we expect the writer to explain every detail of the environment in which the story takes place. An example is the need for an extensive introduction to a doctoral dissertation with massive amounts of references and extensive explanations of what has already been done in the field. The Bible and other ancient writings, however, are written in what is classified as a “High context” environment. In this environment the reader is expected to have a broad and concrete knowledge of the common cultural context of the culture that the writer is talking about.
If, indeed, the Book of Mormon is an ancient document then one should not expect it to explain every detail of the culture and environment related to the recorded history. In fact, the lack of detail is a hallmark of an ancient document and gives further support to the historicity of the book.
Since Mike Parker’s blog post on plural marriage has garnered more comments than all our other threads combined, my keen market research skills have told me that polygamy posts are traffic gold.
One of my research interests at FAIR is plural marriage, and I’ve been reading as much of the primary and secondary literature as I can get my hands on.
I thought our readers might be interested in a periodic look at a few of the things that I’ve found interesting, weird, or different from the common portrayals of plural marriage. In particular, primary sources that may have been misread or misrepresented, are also worth looking at. I hope that readers will spot things that I haven’t, or correct some of my own blind spots.
I’ll try to post at least once or twice a week, until people get bored, I run out of material, or FAIR tells me to stop so this doesn’t become the All Plural Marriage, All the Time blog.