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Mesoamerican Scholar Responds to Criticisms of the Book of Mormon

Salt Lake City, Utah (PRWEB) July 30, 2012 – Dr. John L. Sorenson, emeritus professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University and author of more than two hundred books and articles, released this week an open letter to Dr. Michael Coe, emeritus professor of anthropology at Yale. In August of 2011, Mormon dissident John Dehlin interviewed Dr. Coe about “Book of Mormon archaeology” on Dehlin’s podcast called “Mormon Stories.” In that interview, Coe, a non-Mormon, was asked about the way in which the Book of Mormon is viewed from an archaeological perspective. Coe pointed out many problems, in his view, with believing that the Book of Mormon should be viewed as a historical document.

The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called “Mormons.” Faithful Church members believe that the book contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421. The book was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith who reports to have translated the book from writing on gold plates that he received from an angel. Since that time, many, such as Coe, have challenged the notion that the book contains an actual history.

Dr. Sorenson published a response to Coe’s interview on the website of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, also known as “FAIR.” The letter has also been released in audio form on FAIR’s podcast known as “The Mormon FAIR-Cast.” The letter points out a variety of matters where Dr. Coe’s (and Dehlin’s) characterizations of both the discipline of Mesoamerican archaeology and the Book of Mormon account are either erroneous or greatly oversimplified. Sorenson addressed issues pertaining to metals, animals, textiles, and language that have all been areas where critics of the Book of Mormon have focused.

Sorenson concluded by inviting Coe, a long-time friend, to read Sorenson’s soon-to-be-published book entitled “Mormon’s Codex.” He noted that “The ninety-seven-page list of references includes twenty-one of [Coe’s] writings.” He explained that the book “presents 420 correspondences between the text of the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican cultural patterns and archaeological sequences.” Sorenson concluded by writing: “On that basis, I maintain there is no alternative to understanding that the Book of Mormon (‘Mormon’s Codex’) could only have originated from the hands of a native Mesoamerican writer and that scholars will do well to study it seriously, not flippantly.”

Dr. Sorenson will be sharing his insights into Mesoamerican archeology at the 2012 FAIR Conference that is being held in Utah on August 2 and 3 in Sandy, Utah. FAIR (the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research), is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS doctrine, belief and practice. Along with the annual conference, which is open to everyone, FAIR also sponsors a website that includes answers to difficult questions. FAIR has an “Ask the Apologist” option where people can pose questions to apologists and FAIR also sponsors MormonVoices which responds to public discussions and comments from public figures that misrepresent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For details on the FAIR Conference, including how to purchase tickets, visit the FAIR website.

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