Monday, October 21, 2013

BMAF 2013

The 11th Annual Book of Mormon Archaeological Form (BMAF) Book of Mormon Lands Conference was held on Saturday, October 19th, 2013 at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah. Approximately 200 people attended. The keynote speaker was Dan Peterson who discussed similarities between the Book of Mormon and the Quran, two books from angels. He was followed by Mark Alan Wright who elaborated a vision of future Book of Mormon Studies from his perspective as a member of the BYU Religion faculty and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.Then F. Richard Hauck gave a fascinating analysis of the chiastic structure behind Alma 22:27 - Alma 23:1 (first reported by Shirley Heater in the 1990's). V. Garth & Cheryl Norman received the Father Lehi and Mother Sariah awards for lifetime achievement serving the Book of Mormon and its peoples. Elder Clate W. Mask, recently released as President of the Guatemala City Temple, presented insights from the Cakchiquel Maya and the life of Pablo Choc, Branch President in Patzicia, Guatemala when the 1976 earthquake struck. Royal Skousen identified areas where he has had to change his mind after making new historical or documentary discoveries in or about the Book of Mormon text. Last year, as part of BMAF 2012 in Salt Lake City, John W. Welch and Kirk Magleby presented an overview of Book of Mormon studies from the time of Joseph Smith to the middle of the 20th century. That 2012 presentation can be viewed on YouTube here. This year they presented a run through of Book of Mormon Studies from 1951 to the present. Their 115 slide (107 MB) Powerpoint can be downloaded here.

Past BMAF Father Lehi Award Recipients
2003 Dale T. Tingey
2005 Juan O'Donnell
2006 Bruce W. Warren

Past BMAF Father Lehi & Mother Sariah Award Recipients
2007 Robert E. & Helen Wells
2008 Ted E. & Dorothy Brewerton
2009 John L. & Helen Sorenson
2010 Hugh W. (posthumous) & Phyllis Nibley
2011 Joseph L. & Rhoda Allen
2012 F. Richard & Laura Hauck
2013 V. Garth & Cheryl Norman

Notes from Dan Peterson
Both Joseph Smith and Muhammad are regarded by their respective faith communities as post-Biblical prophets. Islam considers Muhammad the final prophet. Latter-day Saints believe Joseph Smith began a prophetic line that continues today with Thomas S. Monson. The LDS/RLDS split over the rightful successor to Joseph Smith. The Sunni/Shia split over the rightful successor to Muhammad. The Sunni accept a line of caliphs with varied backgrounds. The Shia insist that only caliphs directly descended from Muhammad or his close family are acceptable. The Shia position was complicated from the beginning because Muhammad had no male children who lived to maturity. Both Mormonism and Islam have accepted polygamy. The Book of Mormon and the Quran are both post-Biblical scripture. Islam shares a great deal of common ground with Christianity. Muhammad restored truth during an age of barbarism. Joseph Smith restored truth following centuries of apostasy. Both faiths have a dispensational view of history. Muhammad wondered which religion to embrace and was dissatisfied with his then-available options. 7th century Arabia expected a uniquely Arabian revelation. The Quran calls Muhammad the "seal of the prophets" commonly interpreted as the final prophet in a line going back to Adam. Abraham is particularly reverenced within Islam. LDS leaders in the 19th century showed sympathy for Islam and spoke about it favorably in general conference sermons. Muhammad was visited by the Angel Gabriel while he was meditating in a cave on Mount Hira above Mecca. Gabriel asked Muhammad to read some writing on fabric. Gabriel approached Muhammad three different times. Muhammad had a throne theophany vision. 1 Nephi 1:8 begins the finest throne theopany account recorded in any ancient literature. Lehi's version is the quintessential throne theophany. No artifacts back up the  Quran. The Quran is not translation literature. All translations are considered deficient interpretations. The true Quran only exists in its original Arabic. The Book of Mormon was produced through a translation process that required over 2 intense months to complete. The Quran was revealed over the 23 year span from A.D. 610 to A.D. 632. Its 116 revelations are more like the Doctrine & Covenants than the Book of Mormon. No grand narrative underlies the Quran. The story of Joesph sold into Egypt is the most extensive narrative in the text. Islam believes all ancient prophets were given books. Moses received the Torah, David the Psalms. Christ received the Gospel. Muhammad received the Quran and both are considered supreme, Muhammad the final and most glorious prophet, the Quran the final and most glorious book. The mother (original text) of the Quran resides in heaven. Muslims believe in a strong doctrine of pre-destination. The inlibration of divinity in the Quran is roughly equivalent to the incarnation of divinity in Jesus Christ. See John 1:1. Muslims believe in apocalypse, resurrection and judgment. They are rigorous monotheists, uncomfortable with Christian trinitarianism. Islam has no priesthood and no ordinances, but demanding expectations of adherents. When Muslim students attend BYU, they are scandalized to see LDS students putting their scriptures on the floor and marking them up with colored pencils and highlighters.

Notes from Mark Wright
Some of the excellent Book of Mormon scholars currently at BYU include Brian Hauglid, Thomas Wayment, John Hilton III, Robert Millet, Paul Hoskisson, Royal Skousen and Kerry Hull. Others are Adam Miller, David Bokovoy and Joseph Spencer. Claremont and the University of Virginia now have Mormon Studies programs. The University of Utah has a course studying the Book of Mormon as literature. The Maxwell Institute recently assembled a "Book of Mormon Think Tank." They want to consider the world behind the text (Old World, New World, 19th Century); the world of the text (critical text, literary analysis, comparative texts); the world in front of the text (canonicity) and the Book of Mormon in the academy (Book of Mormon studies, religious studies). Robert Millet is focused on the doctrines within the Book of Mormon, Joe Spencer on the theology. Mark really likes Spencer's 2012 book An Other Testament: On Typology. We need to know who the speakers (authors) are, the types of literature. There are blessings, sermons, letters. A recent article that came across Mark's desk shows a preponderance of Book of Mormon chiasms in sermons, for instance, and a paucity in other types of literature. We need to study the structure of the text. Why is there a 2nd Nephi but only one Alma even though Helaman wrote Alma chapters 45 - 62? Types of criticism that can be productively applied to the Book of Mormon: text, historical, grammatical, literary, form, tradition, redaction, structuralist and canonical. A mesoamerican image shows a bound captive being tortured to death by multiple pokes with fiery torches. This sounds much more like Mosiah 17:13 (the critical text replaces "scourged" with "scorched") than the traditional European image of burning a victim at the stake. David Bokovoy is studying intertextuality between the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We need to know the reasons and contexts behind New Testament passages that appear in the text prior to the time of Christ. John Hilton III is using wordcruncher to study instances where the Book of Mormon cites itself. We need a better chronology and a historical geography tied to chronology. Kirk Magleby has done some good work in this regard. The Maxwell Institute has recently put up a website dedicated to the Book of Mormon onomasticon that includes the ability to search by suffix. Only 5% of the 6,000 known Maya sites have been studied, although the pace of exploration is accelerating. Kerry Hull is now the second mesoamericanist (Mark Wright being the first) to be hired by the BYU Department of Religious Education. Hull has done work on hydrology which shows that the Peten and parts of Veracruz were wetter anciently than they are today. Bruce Warren's suggestion that the Kix glyph (stingray spine) might be related to the name "Kish" in the Book of Mormon Ether 1:18 we now know is invalid. The word "Peten," in use since at least classic Maya times, means "island" which has significant implications for our exegesis of 2 Nephi 10:20. Brian Hauglid, Joe Spencer and Mark Wright edit the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies which will recommence under the original name in 2014. James Faulconer, on the Philosophy faculty at BYU, says richness is the new proof. Wright wishes to demonstrate the Book of Mormon interesting, not necessarily true. Proof is an unattainable standard. Archaeology is an imprecise science and most interpretations are highly subjective. The joke in the profession is that if you don't know what an item was used for, you call it a "ritual object." The Maya conceived the world resting on the back of an enormous turtle. Turtle carapaces have 13 sections, which helps explain Maya reverence for the number 13. Why the sudden interest in things Mormon by academic presses? A typical academic title sells 1,000 to 2,000 copies. LDS academic books typically sell 10,000 copies.Kerry Hull is a linguist and mayanist with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin. He is an expert on the Chorti Maya of eastern Guatemala and Honduras.

An Historical Observation from Kirk Magleby
I was thrilled to hear the BYU Department of Religious Education now has two credentialed mesoamericanists on its faculty: Mark A. Wright (PhD U.C. Riverside 2011) and Kerry M. Hull (PhD U.T. Austin 2004). When Jack Welch, John Sorenson & I were putting FARMS together in the early 1980's, we encountered thinly-veiled and sometimes open hostility from the BYU religion faculty. Joseph Fielding McConkie (1941 - 2013) expressed his disdain saying "I don't care what color the buttons were on Nephi's coat, and I don't think God cares." John Fugal was one of our few allies within the department in those early years. We have come a long way.

Notes from F. Richard (Ric) Hauck
The 10 verses from Alma 22:27 through Alma 23:1 are a complex chiasm bracketed with the Lamanite king sending a proclamation throughout all his land to all his people (Stanza 1). The passage divides into 4 additional stanzas with key words:
Stanza II borders, sea, east, west, wilderness, land of zarahemla, river Sidon.
Stanza III Lamanittes, wilderness, borders, seashore, west, land of Nephi, land of Zarahemla.
Stanza IV Nephites nearly surrounded by Lamanites, lands of Nephi and Zarahemla nearly surrounded by water, wilderness head of Sidon, borders, Bountiful, Desolation, northward, southward. This fourth stanza documents several major movements - Jaredites into the land northward, Mulekites into the land northward and then from there into the land southward, and animals from the land northward into the land southward.
Stanza V Nephites, Bountiful, country whither they might flee, wisdom, Lamanites south, suffer their afflictions, no more possessions.
These 10 verses employ the word "borders" or a variant 10 times. These borders include the narrow strip of wilderness, the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, and the small neck of land. The narrow neck Alma 63:5 is not an isthmus. It is part of the border between Bountiful on the south and Desolation on the north.

Comments from Kirk Magleby
I'm not sure how many people in the audience picked up on the significance of Ric's last point. The narrow or small neck Alma 22:32, Alma 64:5, Ether 10:20 could not have been the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It was not an isthmus at all. It was associated with one and only one sea, the west sea, near the Bountiful/Desolation border. See the blog article "The Narrow (Small) Neck of Land." Ric and his colleage, Joe V. Andersen, were the first to point out the importance of the east to west, Pacific to Sierra Madre fortified wall running through the site of Los Horcones, Chiapas and associate it with the Bountiful/Desolation line in Alma 22:32 and 3 Nephi 3:23.

Notes from Elder Clate W. Mask
Elder Mask was Pablo Choc's missionary companion in the Central American Mission. Pablo was the Branch President in Patzicia when the February 4, 1976 earthquake struck, killing his wife and 2 of their children. Pres. Choc was the one who extricated Elder Randall Ellsworth from under a concrete beam that had crushed his back. Here is a short synopsis of the remarkable Randall Ellsworth story. Elder Mask was President of the Guatemala City Temple when Pablo Choc, just prior to his death, was sealed to his own parents. The Cakchiquel had traditions that they came from across the sea, from the west. Elder Mask's assumptions for reconstructing Book of Mormon geography: up = rise in elevation, down = drop in elevation, north = north, water flows downhill. He begins with the 4 seas, correlating the north sea with the Gulf of Campeche (Gulf of Mexico) coast of Veracruz and Tabasco, the east sea with the Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo, Belize and Guatemala, the south sea with the Pacific coast of Guatemala, and the west sea with the Pacific coast of Chiapas. He correlates the head of Sidon with the head (nacimiento) of the San Juan River labelled "Nacimiento del rio San Juan" on the map below.
Nacimiento (Head) of the San Juan River in Aguacatan, Huehuetenango
In his October, 1954 General Conference address, Elder Milton R. Hunter associated Tulan with Bountiful. Monument 21 at Bilbao shows the 7 tribes motif, 3 + 4. Totems of the 7 tribes are shown within a womb. The Cakchiquel claim to descend from the group of 4. One of the totems on Monument 21 is a bat, widely used among the Cakchiquel today. Another totem is the flint. Other sculptures of interest include Kaminaljuyu stela 10 and Tres Zapotes monument C. Elder Mask was President of the Guatemala City Temple from 2009 - 2012. Faithful saints from all over Central America flock to the Guatemala City Temple in such numbers that there is not room in the parking lot to accommodate all the buses and families have to set up picnic lunches on the grounds while they wait their turn to go inside.

Notes from Royal Skousen
Evidence shows the text was revealed to the Prophet Joseph word for word, even letter for letter. The printer's manuscript was taken to Canada in January, 1830 in an attempt to secure a Canadian (and hence, British Empire) copyright. When Skousen learned this (by reading Stephen Ehat's 2011 article in BYU Studies) he revised a notion he had been suggesting in print for 20 years - the reason the original manuscript was used to typeset Helaman 13:17 to the end of Mormon was because the copyists preparing the printer's manuscript fell behind in their work. They did not fall behind. The printer's manuscript was already finished. It was simply in Canada so the original manuscript was used as the copytext in setting type for one-sixth of the first edition. The text uses early modern English from the 1540 - 1730 period. In some cases, the vocabulary in the Book of Mormon is earlier than that used in the King James Bible (begun in 1604 and completed in 1611). The vocabulary is at least 100 years older than Joseph Smith's 1830 milieu. The original manuscript is 100% consistent in its use of words and phrases in context. Skousen found this quite remarkable early in his research and it has now become axiomatic with him.