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.
Book of Mormon
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.
I can’t tell you the number of times over the past five years that I have heard critics (and some Mormons) say something along the lines of “Mormons have always believed that the Book of Mormon took place in all of North American and South America, with the Isthmus of Panama as the ‘narrow neck of land.'”
Some critics, particularly Evangelical Christian critics, have pointed out in the past that it is inconceivable that the Nephites could have built temples in the New World because “real Jews” would never do that in violation of their law.
One of the standard chestnuts used by critics is that the Book of Mormon cannot be true because it talks of coins in Alma 11, and everyone knows that there have never been any coins discovered from the civilizations purportedly described in the book.