Reshaping the paradigm.

26 Sep

i’ve been writing an article now for abt 5 years outlining why the isthmus of Teauntepec cannot be the narrow neck as outlined in the Book of Mormon

but the more I researched the longer the article got. over the coming days and weeks I will be posting the  article in small segments so as not to over whelm the reader.

Since the 1981 publication of John Sorensen’s An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, a paradigm has been held amongst LDS scholars that has remained largely unquestioned.   Dr Sorensen is to be applauded for the work that he did in gettting the study of the Book of Mormon onto a more professional footing.It is now time for a new generation of scholars to build upon the work that he has done and take Book of Mormon studies in a new direction.

Dr. Sorensen is analgous to the the Mayan scholar Eric Thompson, Mesoamerican studies had been hindered by the attitudes of the  Thompson.  Anthropologists and archaeologists had such respect for Thompson that they were unwilling to challenge his assumptions about the Maya,such as that the Maya were a peace priestly society and that they did not have a real writing system.

Linda Schele and Tatiana Prouskouif were some of the first art-historians whose views had not been shaped by Thompson’s dogma, and as their expertise and research gained respect amongst Mayanists, scholarly ideas about the Maya  began to change.

Dr Sorensen’s work relating to Book of Mormon geography can be seen as foundational, but similar to Thompson’s work, outdated and uninformed by more recent research and thinking in the field.  Book of Mormon geography studies are at the same stage now that Mayan studies were in the late 1970s.  Perhaps the respect which Dr Sorensen has been held in for the ground-breaking work that he did has influenced LDS scholars to be less willing to challenge the assumptions that underly his work.  The heavy influence of Sorensen’s conclusions on further Book of Mormon studies, however,  is gradually dissipating.  Sorrensen’s concept of “Nephite North” has been challenged for a long time and will not be included in this paper.  Likewise, Kirk Magelby (ref) has clearly proven that Sorrensen’s theory that Sidon is the Grivelja River cannot be correct, so this also will not be discussed.

There is one assumption of Dr Sorenson’s that everyone still accepts, and has yet to challenged, and that is that the Ithimus of Tehuantepec is the “narrow neck” mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  While this assumption makes working out the real-world geography of the Book of Mormon so much simpler, it is hoped that  the evidence that  will be presented in the rest of this article will prompt further investigation by LDS scholars outside the existing paradigm.

There  will  be as attempt to demonstrate that the political landscape at the time of the destruction of the Nephites precludes the Ithimus of Tehuantepec or anywhere near the ithimus. as being the “narrow neck”   This  will  be done  by examining  the cities of Teotihuacan and Monte Alban and their growth, as shown in the archeological record.  also  to be discussed will be  the impact that the growth of these two cities had on the Maya, of whom the Nephites were an ethnic-religious group.   While it is outside the scope of this paper to explain the complex evidence for cultural influences between the Maya and the Nephites, it is a fundamental assumption of my work that these two peoples interracted freely.   Also some  of documented character attributes of the military leader, Mormon, will  show  that he would not have led his people through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and it therefore cannot be the “narrow neck of land”.

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