Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Robbers and Lamanites

For hundreds of years, the Nephites battled a single monolithic nemesis, the Lamanites. At the end of their civilization, though, the Nephites fought two different, allied enemies: robbers and Lamanites. The Nephites were caught in a vise with nowhere to flee. Being surrounded with no escape route was a perpetual fear of both Nephites Alma 51:30 and Lamanites Alma 56:37. Here is the textual basis:

Mosiah 21:5 ca. 130 BC The Nephites under King Limhi were caught in a vise with no escape. The Lamanites had surrounded them on every side. It required the intervention of Ammon and his fifteen companions dispatched by King Mosiah II to liberate the people of Limhi by strategem.

Alma 22:33-34 ca. 90 BC The Nephites were diligent to fortify the Bountiful/Desolation line along the west sea so the Lamanites would be hemmed in on the south and unable to overrun  the land northward. This gave the Nephites an escape route. They could always flee into the land northward if conditions became intolerable in their traditional homeland in the land southward.

Alma 50:29-30 ca. 67 BC Had fiery Morianton been allowed to settle the land northward, it would have caused trouble for the Nephites who were trying to protect the land northward as a possible refuge.

Alma 52:9 ca. 66 BC The Nephites were engaged in a two-front war led by Moroni in the southwest and Teancum in the northeast. Lamanites already controlled the southeast beginning at the city of Moroni and from there up the east coast. Therefore, it was strategically important to secure the narrow pass in the northwest because if the Lamanites could obtain that point they would have the Nephites surrounded and could harass them on every side.

Alma 63:4 ca. 55 BC Large scale migrations began from the land of Zarahemla into the land northward.

Helaman 1:9-12 ca. 51 BC Kishkumen (critical text orthography Kishcumen) as a hired assasin murdered Pahoran II (critical text orthography Parhoron). A secret band formed by oath. Its members were embedded incognito among the Nephites. The Nephite state executed any member of the band they could find.

Helaman 2:3-14 ca. 50 BC Gadianton (critical text orthography Gaddianton) emerged as the leader of the band of Kishkumen. Gadianton's goal was to seize control of the Nephite state. The band murdered, robbed, and acquired political power. Kishkumen attempted to murder Helaman II and was killed in the attempt. The Nephite security apparatus attempted to apprehend Gadianton and his band to execute them, but Gadianton swiftly led his band into the wilderness using a little-known escape route. Gadianton ultimately proved to be almost the entire cause of the Nephite destruction. The Nephite destruction narrative is recounted in the books of 4 Nephi and Mormon which were taken from original source documents near the end of the Nephite record-keeping tradition that began with the large plates of Nephi.

Helaman 3:3 ca. 46 BC Large scale migrations continued from the greater land of Zarahemla into the land northward.

Helaman 3:23 ca. 43 BC Gadianton was still alive, leading his nefarious band of robbers who had spread beyond the wilderness and infiltrated the more settled parts of the land.

Helaman 6:6 ca. 29 BC Lamanites began migrating into the land northward.

Helaman 6:15-41 ca. 26 - 24 BC The band of Kishkumen-Gadianton murdered two Nephite chief judges in quick succession. Many Nephites and even more Lamanites joined the band whose members lived incognito among the people. The increasingly virtuous Lanamite state used extraordinary measures including religious evangelism to eliminate the band from their midst. The increasingly amoral Nephite state tolerated and finally embraced the band. Gadianton is not mentioned in these passages as a person and he may no longer have been alive, but the band carrying his name finally succeeded in accomplishing his primary objective: they seized control of the Nephite state (sole management of the government). Nephite destruction was now inevitable.

Helaman 7:4-5 ca. 23 BC Robbers openly controlled the Nephite government in the lesser land of Zarahemla. In their corrupt rule, there was no justice. Judgment was for sale to the highest bidder. Mormon's description of this wicked regime (condemning the righteous, exonerating the guilty for money, seeking for material gain and the glory of the world, committing adultery, larceny, and murder) identifies it as part of the great and abominable church Nephi saw in vision 1 Nephi 13:8 whose founder is the devil 1 Nephi 13:6, Helaman 6:26.

Helaman 7:21-28 ca. 22 BC Nephi II, returned from preaching in the land northward, berated the people of Zarahemla from atop his garden tower for seeking after gain, the praise of men, and worldly wealth. The Nephites were chastised for murder, plunder, stealing, and bearing false witness. The wicked Nephites faced impending destruction because they had united with the robbers. The righteous Lamanites would be preserved and multiplied. Gadianton's band was explicitly called an abomination.

Helaman 8:1, 27-28 ca. 22 BC Nephite judges belonged to the Gadianton band. One member of the band who lusted for power murdered his own brother, a fellow band member.

Helaman 11:1-2 ca. 20 BC The Gadianton robbers started wars throughout all Nephite-controlled territory until the entire nation was embroiled in war.

Helaman 11:10 ca. 17 BC After two years of lethal famine that killed thousands, the Nephites completely eliminated the band of Gadianton from their midst and the documents undergirding the organization were buried in the earth.

Helaman 11:24-33 ca. 12 BC Nephite dissenters and Lamanites re-constituted the Gadianton robbers, who hid out in mountain and wilderness areas. They dug up the old documents supporting the organization and preyed upon both Nephites and Lamanites. They repulsed two Nephite armies sent to destroy them. Their numbers grew to such an extent they threatened both the Nephite and Lamanite armies. The robbers sent raiding parties into Nephite and Lamanite lands, killing many and taking others, particularly women and children, captive.

3 Nephi 3:7 ca. AD 16 Giddianhi's epistle to Lachoneus revealed the mindset of the Gadianton robbers. They wanted the Nephites to join them as partners in crime, not conquered subjects. The robbers attempted to coerce the Nephites through violence into accepting their proposal.

3 Nephi 4:13-14 ca. AD 21 Supreme Nephite military commander, Gidgiddoni, issued a shoot-to-kill order for any robber that fell into Nephite hands. Giddianhi, leader of the Gadiantons, was killed in the field pursuant to this order.

3 Nephi 4:16 ca. AD 21 The Nephites were concentrated in the land of refuge that ran from the lesser land of Zarahemla to the Bountiful/Desolation line along the west coast. The robbers unsuccessfully tried to hem in the Nephites on every side, to surround them and thereby force them to surrender.

3 Nephi 4:23 ca. AD 22 Gadianton leader, Zemnarihah, ordered his band to migrate en masse to the furthermost parts of the land northward.

3 Nephi 4:24-28 ca. AD 22 Nephite armies intercepted the Gadiantons in their march and surrounded them. Members of the band either gave themselves up as prisoners of war or were killed. Zemnarihah was executed in a ritually significant manner. See the Book of Mormon Central KnoWhy #192 published September 21, 2016 entitled "Why Did the People Cut Down the Tree after Hanging Zemharihah?"

3 Nephi 6:28-30 ca. ca. AD 30 After a brief respite, a secret combination formed again according to the ancient pattern. Their aim was to destroy the people of the Lord and replace the Nephite form of government with kingship.

3 Nephi 7:1-3 ca. AD 30 The secret combination murdered the chief judge, Lachoneus II, and destroyed the Nephite central government. What had been a state level society collapsed into tribalism and chiefdoms. See the blog article "State Level Society" for a fascinating comparison of the Book of Mormon with modern political science studies of states that degrade into tribes.

3 Nephi 7:9-13 ca. AD 30 Jacob III became king of the secret combination. He fled with his followers to the northernmost part of the land to build up a kingdom.

3 Nephi 9:9 ca. AD 34 The great city Jacobugath, home to the people of king Jacob who destroyed the Nephite government, was burned by fire at the Savior's death.

4 Nephi 1:42-46 ca. AD 260 The Gadianton robbers re-formed and began to overspread the land. Gold, silver, and trade were their priorities.

Mormon 1:18 ca. AD 326 The Gadianton robbers were among the Lamanites.

Mormon 2:8 ca. AD 331 Mormon faced two enemies, robbers and Lamanites.

Mormon 2:27-29 ca. AD 350 After establishing their most northerly capital in the city of Shem (Mormon 2:20), the Nephites fought their way back southward and negotiated a treaty with both the Lamanites and the robbers that divided the land. The Nephites got the land northward and the Lamanites took the land southward. So, where were the robbers? They were everywhere among both the Nephites and Lamanites, but their headquarters was still in the northernmost parts of the land (3 Nephi 7:12) and their strong presence in the far north was probably the reason the Nephites couldn't just continue fleeing northward beyond Shem.

Mormon 4:23 ca. AD 375 The hill Shim in the land Antum, securely under Nephite control for decades, had become vulnerable to Lamanite attack, causing Mormon to move the Nephite repository from hill Shim to hill Ramah/Cumorah.

Mormon 8:2 ca. AD 385 A few survivors of the Nephite holocaust at hill Ramah/Cumorah, including Mormon, fled southward where they were killed by the Lamanites. Why southward? They must have thought their chances of survival were better with the Lamanites in the land southward than they would have been traveling northward. This implies a powerful, hostile political force entrenched northward from hill Ramah/Cumorah.

Mormon 8:9 ca. AD 401 Moroni remained alone. The Nephites were all gone. Only Lamanites and robbers existed upon the face of the land.

This detailed textual narrative fits astonishingly well into Mesoamerica between 90 BC and AD 401.

The enormous city, Teotihuacan, began its rise to prominence ca. 100 BC. Many people migrated to Teotihuacan from points southward. Cities such as Cholula and Cantona came under Teotihuacan control. About AD 300, Teotihuacan influence began to appear along the Pacific coast of Chiapas and Guatemala. About AD 350, Teotihuacan established Matacapan in the Tuxtlas as a trading outpost. Then in AD 378, Teotihuacan and allies overthrew the ruling house in Tikal and installed a new dynasty loyal to the central Mexican behemoth. Soon after the regime change in Tikal, much of the Maya world came under strong Teotihuacan influence.

And yet, Teotihuacan has always been considered by anthropologists as more of a trading empire than a conquering hegemon. This parallels the sense of Giddianhi's epistle to Lachoneus and Mormon's characterization of them at the end of 4 Nephi. "The Teotihuacan empire was all about trade and control of resources rather than political subjegation." Edwin Roman in a presentation at the VII Convención Mundial de Arqueología Maya, Antigua, Guatemala, February 15, 2019. See the blog article "Light from Guatemala." Some have doubted it was even an empire at all. In 2015, I heard Michael Coe insist Teotihuacan absolutely was an empire that in the AD 350 - 450 time frame dominated the entire Maya area from northern Yucatan to the Pacific coast of Guatemala from its base in central Mexico. See the blog article "Hansen and Coe."

These maps summarize what I think was going on. Some of these ideas have benefitted from conversations with Brant Gardner. A few years before the Nephite holocaust at Ramah/Cumorah, Teotihuacan was expanding its influence throughout the Maya world.
Teotihuacan and Sites with Known Teotihuacan Influence
Three sites with strong Teotihuacan relationships were in the Tuxtla Mountains of southern Veracruz, where we think hill Ramah/Cumorah is located.
Proposed Book of Mormon Lands with Teotihuacan-Affiliated Sites
The Nephites were literally caught in a vise. Their traditional enemies, the Lamanites, were pressing them from the south, and the Gadianton robbers had them hemmed in on the north. Furthermore, the Lamanite/robber connection was growing stronger over time. The Nephites' worst fears were realized. They were surrounded with nowhere to flee. An overwhelming force massed in the area around hill Ramah/Cumorah and the Nephites were annihilated.

These cogent comments are from my friend, Larry Stay, formerly Mission President in Guatemala City South:
  • When the Teotihuacan armies invaded in 378 A.D. they brought new technology with them. They brought the atlatl and short lances with them. This increased the range at which they could effectively engage another army (long range artillery). Stele from the period show warriors with square shields (Maya shields were round) and a large number of lances in hand.
  • It is interesting to me that after 375 A.D. (the approximate time of the invasion) Mormon never won another battle. His armies were swept before the enemy. Perhaps the combination of new technology from the robbers and the consolidation of Lamanite forces crossed the tipping point.
  • Moroni notes that there was continuous warfare after the Nephite defeat (Mormon 8:8). There is a pause in the Mayan archaeological record of about 150 years after the Teotihuacan invasion where Mayan civilization appears to stop. It is consistent with Moroni's observation.
Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which helps people make the Book of Mormon central in their lives. Book of Mormon Central publishes the remarkable new mobile app ScripturePlus.

Saturday, February 8, 2020


I spent Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at the site of Cacaxtla, Tlaxcala with my friends, Javier Tovar, Ignacio Salguero, and Alejandro Martinez.
Tovar, Magleby, and Salguero at Cacaxtla
We filmed a video in Spanish that establishes the case for Mesoamerica being the land where New World Book of Mormon events took place from twenty different perspectives. Cacaxtla is renowned for its vibrant murals and for the fact that it is essentially a Maya site in the heart of central Mexico. Three things are interesting about the site right off the bat:
  1. The first settlers of Cacaxtla showed up ca. AD 400 just after the Nephites were exterminated and while Moroni was wandering during his solitary last 35 years of life. Cacaxtla reached apogee AD 600 - 900.
  2. Later historians called these first settlers the "Ulmeca Xicalanca" and archaeologically we know many of them came from the Gulf Coast of Tabasco and Campeche. The Book of Mormon describes large migrations beginning ca. 55 BC from the land southward into the land northward Alma 63:6, 7 and those migrations continued to the end of the record Mormon 2:28, 29.
  3. The site of Xicalango, Campeche, is 685 air kilometers distant, 800 kilometers if you follow Mexican Highways 150 and 180. We know from archaelology that Cacaxtla and Xicalango maintained a strong trade and cultural relationship in middle to late classic times. This distance is in the ballpark of the size most serious students of the text deduce for Nephite lands (1,000 - 1,200 air kilometers maximum extent of terra cognita).
Cacaxtla's sister site 1 kilometer away, Xochitecatl, was occupied ca. 800 BC and abandoned ca. AD 150 after Popocatépetl erupted yet again. Popocatépetl (5,426 meters or 17,802 feet) and Ixtaccíhuatl (5,230 meters or 17,159 feet) are the second and third highest peaks in Mexico (after Orizaba's 5,636 meters or 18,491 feet) and these two impressive volcanos dominate Cacaxtla's horizon.
Aerial View of Ixtaccíhuatl in Foreground, Popocatépetl in Background
Cacaxtla in context:
Cacaxtla Maintained Trade and Cultural Relationships
with Maya Sites Hundreds of Kilometers Distant
This was my third trip to Cacaxtla over the years. During that time INAH has made significant improvements to the site including the addition of an excellent small museum. From a Book of Mormon perspective, these are the things at Cacaxtla that caught my attention.

1. Mormon 4:14-15, 21 talks about the Lamanites sacrificing Nephite children. At Cacaxtla excavations revealed more than 200 sacrificed children buried as an offering during construction of the Palace. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.
Sacrificed Children Interred in the Cacaxtla Palace 
2. It is clear from the text that the Book of Mormon peoples were very aware of the surrounding oceans. See the blog article "Smoking Gun." Even though it is more than 200 kilometers from the nearest salt water, Cacaxtla preserves ample evidence of a marine mindset.
Marine Shells on Display, Cacaxtla Museum
Marine creatures are on the bottom of this Jaguar-themed mural.
Aquatic Animals Depicted on Cacaxtla Mural
3. The text describes mountains that move and respond as animate beings (Jacob 4:6; Alma 12:14; Helaman 10:9; 12:9-10, 17; Mormon 8:24; Ether 12:30). Ancient Mesoamericans viewed mountains as living beings, particularly big volcanoes such as Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl that breathed smoke, emitted rumblings, and occasionally erupted.
Representations of the Two Volcanoes Near Cacaxtla
The Mixtec Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus I (14th century AD) describes mountains as living beings.
  Placard in the Cacaxtla Museum Referencing Codex Vindobonensis
4. The Book of Mormon mentions shields as part of a warrior's protective armor (Alma 43:19, 21; 44:9; 46:13; 49:6, 24; Helaman 1:14; 3 Nephi 3:26; Ether 15:15. 24). Cacaxtla has several war murals which all depict elaborately decorated shields.
Cacaxtla War Mural Depicting Various Types of Shields
The Nahuatl name for shield is chimalli.
Placard in the Cacaxtla Museum Referencing Chimalli (Shields)
Spanish (Escudos)
5. The Book of Mormon mentions spears (Alma 17:7) and javelins (Jarom 1:8, Alma 51:34, 62:36) as offensive weapons. Several murals show spears or lances.
Cacaxtla War Mural Showing Spears or Lances
Volcanic glass (obsidian) was fashioned into projectile points.
Obsidian Lance Points
6. The Book of Mormon twice lists grains important to the Nephite diet (Mosiah 7:22; 9:9). In both cases, corn appears first on the list. Corn was clearly a staple crop among Book of Mormon peoples (Mosiah 9:14). Corn was the principal food crop grown throughout ancient Mesoamerica and Cacaxtla has numerous depictions of it.
Ears of Corn in Ceramic, Cacaxtla Museum
Corn figures prominently in the famous Cacaxtla murals.
Ripe Corn with Silks
Corn today is the most important food crop on the planet, generating more agricultural income than rice, wheat, or any other staple. Consequently, corn has been intensively studied and its origins are widely-known. It was domesticated in central Mexico ca. 6,000 BC. By 5,000 BC it had spread throughout Mesoamerica and the Andes. It was then carried to the American Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico) ca. 2,100 BC and finally began entering the Mississippi River Basin ca. AD 100. Widespread corn (zea mays) cultivation in the Mississippi drainage and points east began ca. AD 900, enabling the rise of Cahokia, the first true city in the region.

How do we know these dates? The Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database (CARD) contains tens of thousands of C14 dates from all over the world. The University of British Columbia has created a subset of CARD they call the Ancient Maize Map. This map visualizes hundreds of macro samples (corn cobs) and micro samples (corn pollen, phytoliths) from the Americas which have been competently radiocarbon dated.
University of British Columbia Ancient Maize Map
An exhibit on display in the Ohio History Connection Museum in Columbus validates this data. Isolated corn kernels have been found in Hopewell (ca. 100 BC - AD 500) mounds, but widespread corn cultivation and consumption in Ohio did not begin until centuries after the Hopewell.
Display in Ohio History Center Museum
The absence of corn during Book of Mormon times is a fatal flaw in any model that attempts to locate Nephite and Jaredite lands. Corn is the only grain grown widely enough in ancient America to supply the caloric needs of the populations (Ether 15:2 says millions) mentioned in the text. I am indebted to BYU's prolific Mesoamericanist, Kerry Hull, for this profound insight. The first true city in what is today the USA was Cahokia in East Saint Louis, IL. Cahokia's population at apogee (AD 1050 - 1200) reached 20,000. It was the arrival of widespread maize agriculture in the area around Cahokia that allowed the urbanization to coalesce. No corn, no city.

Mesoamerica, on the other hand, had extensive and intensive corn cultivation since early Jaredite times.
Ears of Corn from a Carved Stone Panel in the
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
7. The Book of Mormon contains the curious idea that a human and a plant can co-exist in the same physical body, that people can become trees (Alma 32:28, 41). We see anthropomorphic plants among the luxuriant Cacaxtla murals.
Human Heads as Ears of Corn on a Cornstalk
8. The Book of Mormon says people in the land northward used cement as an architectural building material (Helaman 3:7, 9, 11). Cacaxtla is in the part of Mesoamerica most Book of Mormon modelers consider the land northward. Major public structures at Cacaxtla were built using cement.
Elaborately Worked Cement Pillar at Cacaxtla
9. The Book of Mormon says the Nephites reaised flocks and herds and animals of every kind 2 Nephi 5:11. That may have included birds such as the South Mexican wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo which has been found in a preclassic context at El Mirador in Guatemala's Peten. The Palace at Cacaxtla had a room dedicated to aviculture.
Cacaxtla Room with Bird Cages (Jaulas)
10. The Book of Mormon associates Jesus Christ with both a bird and a serpent. The bird serpent imagery comes from the incident where fiery flying serpents were biting and killing the Israelites in the wilderness 1 Nephi 17:41, Numbers 21:6. Moses was instructed to create a metallic serpent and lift it up on a pole. Whoever was bitten by the poisonous serpents and looked upon the brazen serpent was instantly healed 2 Nephi 25:20, Numbers 21:8,9. The serpent on a pole, of course, was a symbol of the Savior on the cross John 3:14.
Moses Raising the Brazen Serpent in the Wilderness
The Book of Mormon mentions or alludes to the brazen serpent incident and its attendant avian imagery several times. The raised or lifted serpent motif is more prominent in the Book of Mormon than in the Bible:

  • 1 Nephi 11:33 The Savior at His crucifixion would be lifted up.
  • 1 Nephi 17:41 the fiery serpents could fly, combining avian & reptilian characteristics.
  • 1 Nephi 19:10 The Savior at His crucifixion would be lifted up.
  • 2 Nephi 25:13 After the crucifixion, the Savior would resurrect with healing in his wings.
  • 2 Nephi 25:20 Moses raised up the brazen (bronze) serpent. The act of raising up symbolizes flight or ascension to heaven.
  • Alma 33:19 The serpent Moses raised up in the wilderness was a type of the Savior.
  • Helaman 8:14, 15 The brazen serpent lifted up by Moses symbolized life through Christ.
  • 3 Nephi 10:4-6 The Savior compared Himself to a hen gathering chickens under her wings.
  • 3 Nephi 25:2 The Savior would arise with healing in his wings.
  • 3 Nephi 27:14-15 The Savior was sent to earth to be lifted up on the cross and draw all men unto Him.
  • 3 Nephi 28:6 Jesus Christ was lifted up by the Jews.
  • Ether 4:1 The Savior would be lifted up upon the cross.
It may be that bird serpent imagery is prevalent in the Book of Mormon because a Mesoamerican belief in a feathered serpent was common and the Nephites were trying to liken the scriptures unto themselves. This is a feathered serpent image from La Venta Monument 19 which dates to ca. 600 BC.
Serpent with Feathers on La Venta Monument 19 in the
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
Parenthetically, many have commented over the years how the bucket-like object in the anthropomorphic figure's right hand is similar to objects depicted on Assyrian bas relief panels from Nimrud. This panel is from Ashurnasirpal II's palace. He reigned from 883 - 859 BC.
Bucket-like Object in Anthropomorphic Figure's Left Hand
Assyrian Relief in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
 And this is a feathered serpent image from Teotihuacan which dates to ca. AD 300.
Serpent Scepter with Feathers in the Site Museum, Teotihuacan
The Mesoamerican feathered serpent is strongly correlated with the pan-Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl. Quetzal in Nahuatl means "precious feathers" alluding to the famous Quetzal bird from the cloud forests of Guatemala. Coatl in Nahuatl means "serpent." This is one of several represenations of Quetzalcoatl from Cacaxtla. This mural dates to ca. AD 700.
Cacaxtla Priest or Ruler Representing Quetzalcoatl
This personage has prominent wings at his shoulders and he holds a serpent bar as a symbol of power. He has bird feet and he is standing on a feathered serpent. This is a close-up of the feathered serpent from the replica mural in the site museum.
Cacaxtla Feathered Serpent with a Beard
Several of the murals at Cacaxtla have a similar feathered serpent around their border.

11. One last small item. The Book of Mormon mentions sounding a trumpet (3 Nephi 13:2, Ether 14:28). An artifact from Cacaxtla shows a figure blowing on a conch shell trumpet.
Sounding a Trumpet, Cacaxtla Museum
Cacaxtla is a terrific site, well worth a visit.

Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which builds enduring faith in Jesus Christ by making the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible to the entire world. Book of Mormon Central publishes the remarkable new scripture study app ScripturePlus.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Clayton Magleby Christensen (1952 - 2020)

My cousin died early Thursday, January 23rd, 2020, of complications from leukemia. It was his fifth bout with cancer. He was 67. What Clayton Magleby Christensen accomplished in his life was exceptional by any standard. We will miss him. A bright light has passed from the earth to the heavens.
Clayton M. Christensen, Giant of a Man
The second son of Robert Magleby Christensen (1926 - 1976) and Verda Mae Fuller (1922 - 2004), Clayton was precocious, bold, self-effacing, and faithful. His father was President of the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake. His mother served for eleven years on the Relief Society General Board. Clayton served as an Area Authority Seventy from 2002 - 2009. He and Christine's oldest son, Matt, is currently President of the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake.
Presidents of the Rose Park Stake. Robert Magleby Christensen is Top, Center
Robert, a tall man, played basketball in central Utah on the team Verda Mae called the "Richfield Stumblebums." Clayton, 6' 8", was an all-state basketball player for West High School who went on to play for the University of Oxford. President Monson told the story of his refusal to play on the Sabbath in October, 2010 General Conference. His son Matt, 6' 10", played center for Duke University on the team that won the 2001 NCAA championship.

Robert's grandfather, Hans Olsen Magleby (1835 - 1903), helped convert the family of future Apostle John A. Widtsoe (1872 - 1952) in Trondheim, Norway. Clayton, author of The Power of Everyday Missionaries, helped convert dozens of colleagues and students over the years.

Robert was a dedicated genealogist. Clayton found thousands of names and enlisted the help of his Belmont, Massachusetts Ward to get their Temple work done. 

Christensen wrote ten books in several different disciplines. Each was a best-seller. He founded several companies, all of which thrived. He was a David O. McKay and a Rhodes Scholar who earned degrees from BYU, Oxford, and Harvard. He consulted with heads of state and business titans. He was ranked the #1 business consultant in the world multiple times. He was the superstar of the Harvard Business School faculty. His youngest brother, Carlton, former Salt Lake City Councilman and currently President of the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, once asked his famous brother for a favor. Clayton had to turn him down because he would be consulting with 100 high-powered CEO's at Bill Gates' home on Lake Washington. None of this went to Clayton's head. The first time he appeared on the cover of Forbes, I sent him a congratulatory email. He replied right back, "It must have been a slow week for news."
Clayton Christensen Memorabilia Display
When news of Clayton's death reached the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in their Thursday meeting, the question was who wanted to go to Boston to preside at the funeral? All fifteen hands went up. Pres. Henry B. Eyring was selected. His son, Henry, co-wrote The Innovative University with Clayton. The funeral was held in the Cambridge Stake Center with an overflow video feed to the Belmont Ward Meetinghouse and a Facebook facility in Cambridge. Clayton and Christine's daughter-in-law, Channing Hancock Christensen, Elder Gerrit W. Gong's niece, is head of global business marketing for WhatsApp which is part of Facebook.
Clayton Christensen in His Prime
Accolades poured in from all over the world. Salt Lake newspapers ran stories about Clayton almost every day for a week. Intermountain Healthcare took out a full page ad honoring him as a former board member.

The essence of Clayton Christensen, though, was his faith. His favorite book was the Book of Mormon. His testimony came with full force while he was at Oxford. His Enos-like story is worth re-telling. This is The New Yorker version from 2012 written by Larissa MacFarquhar:

Being a Mormon at Oxford, it was soon clear, was going to be extremely inconvenient. He had already served a two-year mission to Korea, and thought he was certain of his beliefs, but now he decided he'd better figure out for sure whether his was the true church. Each night at eleven, he knelt down and told God out loud that he needed to know whether the Book of Mormon was true. After praying, he sat and read one page, and then he stopped and thought about it. Then he knelt and prayed out loud again, asking God to tell him whether the book was true. Then he read another page. He did this for an hour each night for many weeks. "One evening in October, 1975," he wrote later, "as I sat in the chair and opened the book following my prayer, I felt a marvellous spirit come into the room and envelop my body. I had never before felt such an intense feeling of peace and love. I started to cry, and did not want to stop. I knew then, from a source of understanding more powerful than anythying I had ever felt in my life, that the book I was holding in my hands was true."
Clayton M. Christensen, Faithful Scholar
Why was Clayton M. Christensen able to accomplish more in 67 years than most people could in five lifetimes? Because like Nephi or Ammon or Alma the Younger or Joseph Smith or Russell M. Nelson, he received inspiration from on high pretty much 24/7/365. If products from Samsung or Apple or Intel have enriched your life, you have been blessed by Clayton Christensen's inspiration. If you hold the Book of Mormon diligently in your hands, God Himself promises you will receive your own personal inspiration Moroni 10:4. And, if you consistently follow the promptings you receive from the Spirit, you will become Christlike. Clayton Christensen became very Christlike. These words were printed in the program of the memorial service held in the Rose Park Stake Center on Saturday, February 15, 2020:
How Clayton Magleby Christensen Measured His Life
Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which builds enduring faith in Jesus Christ by making the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible to the entire world. Book of Mormon Central publishes the remarkable mobile app ScripturePlus.
Elder Neil L. Andersen in April, 2020 General Conference, told about Clayton's spiritually defining moment reading the Book of Mormon night after night in his flat at Oxford.

Article last updated April 4, 2020.