Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Norman's Clincher

While talking with Garth Norman recently he recounted the moment he realized the Usumacinta must be the Sidon. He first determined that Moroni on the east coast just north of the narrow strip of wilderness Alma 50:13 had to be one of the known submerged ruins (such as Tiger Mound) in the Bay of Amatique that straddles the Caribbean coast of Guatemala and Belize.
Proposed Fortified Cities Moroni to Manti and Beyond
There are six serious Mesoamerican Book of Mormon correlations. They are, in order of first publication: Sorenson (1985), Hauck (1988), Allen (1989), Turner (2004), Norman (2006), and Magleby (this blog, 2011). Five of the six place Moroni (white pin) and the narrow strip of wilderness about where they are shown on the map above. The only outlier is Sorenson who places Moroni (black pin) on the Gulf Coast. So, Norman has solid support for his Moroni correlation.

Ca. 72 BC Captain Moroni fortified a string of cities at key points along the southern flank of Nephite lands. They ran from Moroni on the east Alma 50:13 to Antiparah on the west Alma 56:31. Going from east to west, the cities were Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni, and Antiparah Alma 56:14. Westward from Moroni the next fortified city was Manti which was near the head of river Sidon Alma 22:27. Antiparah, Cumeni and Zeezrom were in the south west quadrant of Nephite lands Alma 52:11, Alma 53:22. The Sidon itself was in the center of Nephite territory Helaman 1:26. Ca. 72 BC the greater land of Zarahemla north of the narrow strip of wilderness extended from sea to sea Alma 50:11-13. So, moving westward from Moroni, Manti was the next in line of Captain Moroni's fortified cities. It was not far from the head of the river at the approximate center of the greater land of Zarahemla. The Usumacinta fits this scenario beautifully and for Norman, that was the clincher.

Introducing Book of Mormon Central

A member of the Stanford LDS Institute faculty, Lynne Hilton Wilson, grew tired of seeing bright young Latter-day Saints leave the Church without ever seriously engaging the Book of Mormon. She envisioned an organization that could communicate the wonder of this text to a broad audience, including millennials. Major donors came forward and Book of Mormon Central (BMC) was born in May, 2015. John W. (Jack) Welch is the Chairman. I (Kirk Magleby) serve as Executive Director. Taylor Halverson rounds out the volunteer management team. We have a research office and library in Springville, Utah. The legal entity behind BMC is Ancient America Foundation (AAF) chartered in 1983. In addition to full-time staff and part-time freelancers, BMC has both affiliates and associates. Affiliates are collaborative organizations with compatible goals. Associates are volunteer researchers, writers, editors, reviewers, illustrators, composers, designers, photographers, etc.

Book of Mormon Central launched on January 1, 2016. A pre-launch reception was held on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm in the Fritz Burns Lobby of the J. Reuben Clark Law School on BYU Campus. About 120 people attended.
Book of Mormon Central Pre-Launch Reception Invitation
Book of Mormon Central has four major initiatives.
  • The BMC Archive is a comprehensive digital repository of searchable texts and media relevant to the Book of Mormon. Over 1,000 items were in the archive at launch.
  • BMC Notes are articles about the Book of Mormon organized in curated wiki format. A few notes were available at launch, with many more coming online during 2016.
  • The BMC Text is an online interactive copy of the Book of Mormon linked to explanatory material in the Archive and Notes. A short demo of the text was online at launch.
  • KnoWhys are concise illustrated essays about a point of interest in the Book of Mormon published frequently in many social media channels including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. KnoWhys began publication January 1, 2016.
Nothing like Book of Mormon Central has ever been attempted in this dispensation. We hope to give believers a place to strengthen their conviction through reliable scholarship and articulate communication. And we hope to help many not of our faith come to know the Book of Mormon.

A phrase we have heard frequently the last few months, "This is greatly needed and long overdue."

This article updated January 30, 2016