The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A perfect example of why a concurrent approach is needed

For a while now, I've been asking for and hoping for a truly neutral outlet for presentation of Book of Mormon research. Today I'm offering a perfect example of why a concurrent approach is needed and would be appreciated by readers.

Book of Mormon Central posted an excellent KnoWhy yesterday on barley. The Book of Mormon says the people tilled the ground with seeds of corn, wheat, barley, neas, sheum, and all manner of fruits. (Mosiah 9:9). Archaeologists have, in fact, found pre-Columbian barley in North America. Footnote 2 to the KnoWhy is an nice article by Tyler Livingston titled "Barley and The Book of Mormon: New Evidence."

Here's an excerpt:

"[Little barley] was first discovered in the “Midwest during the Middle Archaic period, at two locationally-close sites. The earliest record came from the Koster North site in central west Illinois, dating to 7,300 B.P. Hordeum pusillumalso occurred at the Napoleon Hollow site, beginning at 6,800 B.P.”[4]Archaeologists are now finding barley in several sites all over North America. Barley has now been discovered in archaeological sites in the following places: Arkansas,[5] Iowa,[6] Illinois,[7] Missouri,[8] North Carolina,[9] Oklahoma,[10] Wisconsin,[11] and Mexico.[12]"

This should be an easy connection with the Book of Mormon narrative, assuming the land of Zarahemla was in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. Limhi traveled from there to the land of Nephi, which is in Tennessee. Chattanooga is about 50 miles from North Carolina.

[Note: According to the reference cited as note 12, the location in Mexico is in Paquime or Casas Grandes, which about 67 miles south of the Arizona border--closer to Missouri than to Chiapas. The reference describes little barley as "an indigenous domesticate found in Eastern North America and the Hohokam region of Arizona."]

Archaeology supports the Book of Mormon--when we look in the right place.

But look at what happens when this is viewed through the Mesoamerican lens. Continuing the quotation from the same article:

"Since most scholars place Book of Mormon events in Central America, many of these sites and cultures would show that barley was native to the Americas, but outside of Book of Mormon parameters. However, since it is now being found in Mexico and the Southwest, it is becoming more likely that Book of Mormon cultures were in contact with cultures from the North, and may have possessed barley...  While the connection between Mesoamerica and Barley is not made,[14] it would seem odd that trade of “principal crops” would take place without the trade of barley. Whether the tradecame from Mesoamerica to Arizona, or the other way around, it would make sense that barley was part of the crop trade between the culture."


Summary: even when archaeology hands us a clear and direct tie to the text, the Mesoamerican theory rejects it in favor of another "it would seem odd" argument.

It is this kind of pretzel twisting that characterizes so much of the Mesoamerican theory (think tapirs, jade, directions, headwaters, etc.). Why do they do it? Because of the anonymous articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons and their distrust of Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith regarding the New York Hill Cumorah.

Think of how much readers would benefit if BOMC would simply add a fair and neutral comment about the North American setting, at least as an alternative to the Mesoamerican setting. Readers everywhere would appreciate a fair and neutral presentation of concurrent geographies.


  1. I wonder how the citation cartel deals with barley being part of the Nephite "Monetary System?" It seems that the monetary system was designed so that silver comprised the "lesser numbers of their reckoning" (and thus more accommodating to the less well off in society) and that one of these "lesser numbers" was equal to a half measure of barley. Therefore "It would seem odd" if the Nephites had to trade with North America for something that formed part of the foundation for their monetary system.

  2. Excellent point. Of course, had the Book of Mormon actually taken place in Mesoamerica, we would be reading about obsidian, jade and feathers. Here's an example: "For years the Maya traversed their territories, built huge cities, and developed trade routes- all without animal assistance or the use of the wheel. Their trade routes connected North America with South America and allowed Maya merchants to trade textiles, ceramics, feathers, jades, bells, stones and objects that were prized like money."

  3. "It would seem odd" is just code-speak for "I have to fill in a gap without hard evidence."