Main Street Church
A Response to Critics of
The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon

© 2006 by Alberto Rivera

Reprinted with Permission

(A Critique of: Behind the Mask, Behind the Curtain: Uncovering the Illusion, by
Brant Gardner, Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2005. P. N/A)


Throughout Brant’s response to the film, he never once mentioned how this DVD was done as a labor of love by its producers, but instead continually presented it as propaganda designed to lure those of the LDS faith into believing something that is really not there. Ironically, Gardner does the very thing he and others accused the producers of doing. His article compares the Bible vs. the Book of Mormon DVD to that of a magician’s show, one based on “magic tricks with ideas.” He then accuses the film makers of using typical magic techniques of misdirection, unexamined assumptions and hidden information to further their magic show of making people believe a reality that never happened. I don’t envy the position of those who are of the LDS faith. They are continually asked to believe by faith in the Book of Mormon and the existence of an ancient civilization for which there is still no solid evidence to be found, only the plausibility of such an existence. The DVD does not focus on stories such as Noah’s Ark, Crossing the Red Sea or other stories that require faith. Instead it focuses on what can be proven through archaeological evidence and verifies real people, places and events which the Book of Mormon does not have in its favor.

Gardner had ample opportunity to respond to the critics with factual evidences that may exist, instead he chose to squander his efforts in continually presenting arguments based upon possibilities and plausibilities concerning the civilizations discussed in the Book of Mormon. Gardner continually accuses those in the DVD of being wrong because they ask the wrong questions, make faulty interpretations of the Book of Mormon, and observe evidences incorrectly, or a combination of the three. The DVD is crystal-clear in its presentation and posing “The Monumental Question” that still remains unanswered by the LDS Church and LDS Scholars alike.


How could an entire civilization consisting of well over 2 million peoples (Ether 15:2), not including the size and number of their enemies…be so completely wiped out as to have left no factual traces of their existence? No tools, no weapons, no writings, no architecture, no coins, no human remains, nothing? Every single one of them completely destroyed leaving no graves or evidences of their existence?


Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” When it comes to placing the Book of Mormon into an appropriate historical context in regards to artifacts, places, names & culture, LDS Apologists can only offer speculation and theories. In short, it’s not only the absence of any one given piece of evidence to support the Book of Mormon that is missing, but the combined package is also missing.

Introduction

The Reality: The film clearly sets out to display the sharp contrast between the Bible and the Book of Mormon by using the exact same standards (archaeological, geographical, textual evidences and other forms of proofs). The DVD mainly focused on the claims and positions held by the Latter-day Presidency, which sometimes are also in opposition to that of LDS apologists. It seemed far more appropriate to question the Church’s official position on matters, rather than to focus too much attention on LDS theories--Mesoamerican parallels or endless scholarly arguments that have no direct Church support or approval. By the end of the film, they had conducted numerous interviews with experts in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, historical geography, textual criticism, linguistics, and with scholars and professors of the Old and New Testament. Having clearly presented facts for those things that can be seen and observed, the DVD then leaves matters of faith entirely up to the viewer for the things left unseen.

The Masking: Gardner was correct in saying, “the film clearly intends to demonstrate that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are not comparable by taking a very critical view…”

Gardner then starts this section off with what becomes his trademark in responding to the remainder of the DVD. Rather than respond directly to the evidence or topics covered, he re-directs the argument to one that doesn’t relate to the video but one that suits his own purpose. Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards things pertaining specifically to faith. He goes on to quote William G. Dever, a professor who no doubt believes that the Bible is historical, yet uses his quote to turn this argument into one concerning faith, not archaeology or history.

The “archaeological revolution” in biblical studies confidently predicted by [George E.] Wright and his teacher, the legendary William Foxwell Albright, had come about by the 1980s, but not entirely in the positive way that they had expected. Many of the “central events” as narrated in the Hebrew Bible turn out not to be historically verifiable (i.e., not “true”) at all. [1]

He goes on further to say, “the ‘truth’ of the Bible is obtained by faith and revelation, whether it is historically verifiable or not.” Again, the film’s primary concern was whether or not both books considered to be scripture are historically verifiable or not. One memorable statement he made in this section was regarding the hard questions asked of each of them, “in the end, the answers, not the questions are important.” I would say the questions posed by the film are far more important than the answers he supplied to questions that were never asked. This becomes the first of many topics Gardner chooses to avoid by re-directing “The Monumental Question” into an answer that bares no resemblance to topics covered in the film.

The Story of the Bible; The Story of the Book of Mormon

The Reality : The outline of the video was laid out; the DVD intended to show that there is supporting evidence that is irrefutable concerning events, people and the locations mentioned in the Bible. Joseph Smith and every LDS prophet and apostle after him has proclaimed the Book of Mormon to be a true and accurate history of ancient America. The DVD was not intended to present the Bible's history and archaeology as absolutely complete, but rather to illuminate the Book of Mormon’s historical shortcomings regarding the events, people and locations mentioned. One of the volumes has clear historical content that is irrefutable; the other merely claims to be historical.

The Masking: Gardner alleges to a very subtle illusion that had taken place during the DVD’s presented segment. He states, “The film portrays a Bible that can be easily confirmed as historical and a Book of Mormon for which no authentication can be found.” Gardner claims the misdirection comes by the way the stories are presented; while the subtle illusion aspect is solely based upon the viewer’s own predispositions.

He tries to make an argument for the disposition of others by the way viewers themselves relate the Bible to the Old World and the Book of Mormon to the Americas. Gardner himself realizes that most Latter-day Saints believe the events described in the Book of Mormon took place on the Western Hemisphere, or inthe Americas as described in the video. The illusion that he continually alludes too is not one conjured up by the producers of the DVD or by the Christian Evangelical community, but by the LDS Presidency. Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards a body of scholarship that has grown in volume and sophistication over the last forty years.[2] So rather than focus on what the DVD presented in clear format, he goes on to accuse the producers of creating a powerful illusion. “In this case, the illusionists do not want to deal with the best Latter-day Saint scholarship on the Book of Mormon.” What Gardner failed to mention was that the LDS Church and LDS Presidency also fail to deal with the best Latter-day Saint scholarship. The Hill Cumorah in New York is noted as the only place that the LDS Church declares to be an official, ancient historical site; this in itself is also counter to LDS scholarship.

In typical fashion, he avoided the argument concerning the need for evidence and proof and turns the argument into one of that perpetrates a “lack of scholarly honesty.” He concludes this segment by stating “this magician knows more than he wants the audience to see.” Ironically, it is the DVD that asks to see this evidence and proof for the civilizations mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Gardner wants to turn this into a scholarly argument that focuses on Mesoamerica, while the official Church position is that it took place in the Americas (which is somewhat counter to the scholarship Gardner continually wishes to present.)

Geography

The Reality: The DVD presents a simple question at the opening of this segment by asking, “Does the Book of Mormon account match the geography and archaeology of the New World, and does the Bible match the accounts of the Old World?” The Bible was presented first with short film clips of the producers on location through the lands mentioned in the Bible. They filmed the Judean Wilderness, Mt. Hermon, The Golan Heights, panning scenery of Israel, someone splashing around in the Jordan River, a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee and a DVD producer floating in the Dead Sea. The Geography matches the Bible, the valleys are next to the cities and hills as described through very detailed geographical accounts in the Bible. This is contrasted by the introduction to the Book of Mormon and the inability to clearly place the locations mentioned in it to any known real-world maps. William Wilson, an anthropologist from Northern Arizona University had this to say: “There is no map showing Book of Mormon lands because they can’t place it on earth. They don’t know where it is.”

The Masking: Gardner’s own writing in this area lends to the film's strength by stating, “The most favorable reading of this section has the makers of the film concentrating on the lack of an official declaration of the location of Book of Mormon lands. While the Church clearly has no official position, that does not mean that ‘they don’t know where it is.’” Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards the declared works of John E. Clark, and other writings by LDS scholars who promote a “probable” location for the Book of Mormon. While such theories and statements may be enough to satisfy LDS faith, they simply fall short of answering the questions posed by the DVD. These views are also unsupported by the Church as noted in the response:

John E. Clark, who is both a Latter-day Saint and a frequently cited Mesoamerican archaeologist, notes in his article on geography for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism: “Many scholars currently see northern Central America and southern Mexico ( Mesoamerica) as the most likely location of the Book of Mormon lands. However, such views are private and do not represent an official position of the Church.” [3]

John L. Sorenson is presented as having “the best arguments for placing the Book of Mormon in the real world.” Gardner references many of Sorenson’s writings, including a published book-length correlation of the Book of Mormon to a specific Geography. [4] Gardner even goes so far as to say: “He (Sorenson) locates valleys, lakes, rivers, and hills, just as the film indicates have been done for the Bible.” [5] Why then have we not been able to locate the two million killed which covered “all the face of the land,” [6] not including their wives, children, and the destruction left by their warfare as noted in the Book of Ether. [7] Its hard to imagine a cataclysmic battle taking place anywhere in the world and leaving no traces of its occurrence. Sorenson is only able to locate probable sites, and possible locations. He did not portray these areas in his book as factual!

Peoples and Empires

The Reality: The DVD begins the segment by asking a rhetorical question: “How do you know that the Roman Empire existed?" Dr. Peter Williams, a professor of textual criticism at the University of Aberdeen gives us the answer. “The Romans left marks everywhere they went. They left large roads, they left coins and they left written records.” The remains of Ancient Greek and Roman Empires written in the Bible are clearly visible. Where are the records to the existence of the great empires that are said to have existed in the New World? One of them being the Jaredites as written about in Ether 1:43, stating they would be a great nation “and there shall be none greater…” We find no traces of them or the Nephite civilization, which were said to be an industrious people. Dr. Stephen L. Whittington, an archaeologist from University of Maine had this to say, “I don’t know of any evidence that the Nephites ever existed in the Americas.” The same was said by New World archaeologist Eliseo Fajardo Madrid from Honduras, “No evidence has been found of a culture originating in Israel, called Lamanites, or Nephites. There’s no evidence.” Dr. Gabriel Barkay, a biblical archaeologist of Bar-Ilan University in Israel noted, “We know a lot about the Canaanite civilization through Egyptian sources as well as through many, many archaeological sites excavated in this country where we have the Canaanite civilization reflected.

The producers of the DVD asked the question: “Archaeologically, have the Philistines been shown to have existed?” To which Dr. Katherina Galor, an Associate Director of the Tiberias Excavation in Israel answered, “Absolutely, yes. Absolutely, the Philistines have their own distinct material culture which we can tell apart from other cultures that lived here.” Another question was posed, “Could three enormous empires said to have flourished in the Americas for centuries leave no archaeological trace of themselves?” Dr. Yizhar Hirschfeld, an archaeologist of Hebrew University and Director of the Tiberias Excavation in Israel responds, “No it’s impossible. No that’s impossible!” He goes on to say, “Archaeology never lies, if there were people at a certain place; they left behind them many artifacts.” Barkay further expands on the topic, “We do not have such a situation in which a certain power would be destroyed without leaving any evidence; they leave their tombs, they leave the remnants of their houses, they leave their temples, they leave their foundations and they leave their destruction.” The DVD presentation leaves little room for speculation as to the whereabouts or evidences of these three enormous civilizations said to have existed in the Book of Mormon.

The Masking: Gardner begins by the section by stating “the makers of the film give no indication of what the ‘it’ is that they were looking for and did not find might be.” He goes on to say, “What are they not telling us about the Jaredites?” Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards the geographic “correlation” in Sorenson’s work which “suggests” the land of the Jaredites corresponds to that of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Gardner again focuses on the plausibility of Jaredites participating in the Olmec culture, and a correlation between that culture and the ones mentioned in the Book of Mormon. As Gardner put it, “The film is more illusionist than scholarly.” Yet it would seem that the film's critics are the ones presenting the illusions.

More Archaeological Reality: The film provided two experts to be interviewed concerning the civilizations found throughout Central America. Dr. Steven Whittington, an archaeologist from University of Maine, who stated, “I don’t know of any evidence that the Nephites existed in the Americas.” The second expert was Dr. Thomas Murphy, an LDS anthropologist. Murphy stated, “The civilizations we find throughout Central America tended to peak, find their great climax, between 600 A.D. and 900 A.D. well after the events described in the Book of Mormon.” In short, Mesoamerica has no relationship to the Book of Mormon aside from parallels and LDS scholarly theories.

The Masking: Gardner’s argument in this section focused on Dr. Whittington’s knowledge, or lack thereof, concerning Latter-day Scholarship in Mesoamerica. While Gardner found no problems with Whittington’s evaluation on the matter, his knowledge of the Book of Mormon was presented as questionable: “One can best read Whittington’s statement as an honest evaluation from someone unfamiliar with the whole picture.” Yet, even after questioning Whittington’s knowledge on the matter, Gardner himself could not avoid the facts presented; “It is true, however, that nothing in the New World has been found with the name Nephite on it."

Gardner’s next argument focused on a statement made by Dr. Murphy. “Less explicable is Murphy’s statement, which is completely accurate—the civilizations of Mesoamerica did reach their climax between ad 600 and 900.” Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards arguments based upon Sorenson’s suggested lands and timelines that best correlate to the Book of Mormon. [8] Gardner appears to choose and accept a conclusion based upon probability rather than one of absolute certainty as noted by this statement: “It is true…nothing in the New World has been found with the name Nephite on it.”

“Two strong reasons stand out why the Valley of Guatemala should be considered the original land of Nephi. The first is that the site of Kaminaljuyu was for many centuries the dominant cultural center for all highland Guatemala, the most important spot for several hundred miles around…A second big reason for considering Nephi to have been here is that customs, details of terrain, and the dating of the archaeological remains correlate closely with what is reported in the Book of Mormon.” [9]

Ironically, Gardner also considers Murphy’s statement to be both “misleading” and “cautiously correct” at the same time. This argument does nothing for the evidence demanded by the video. Although the ruins of Nakbé and El Mirador are considered by some LDS scholars to be great identifiable prime candidate sites for the Book of Mormon, these massive beautiful sites, which are impressive in architecture, fail to answer the continuing questions posed by the video: “Is this the Land of the Book of Mormon?” The segment ends with Gardner suggesting that either the editors, Murphy “or both” have attempted some magician work, ultimately making “more than a thousand years of Mesoamerican culture to vanish into thin air.” Gardner has clearly failed to provide clear factual evidence for the Book of Mormon in this segment, just as he has for previous segments.

Another Disappearing Civilization argument: The film clearly portrays how an entire large civilization cannot simply vanish without a trace, especially as large a one as presented in the Book of Mormon. The film focuses on biblical archaeology and responses from Dr. Barkay and Dr. Galor. They clearly demonstrate that although the Canaanites no longer exist, they have much information about their existence through Egyptian sources and archaeological sites. Dr. Galor and Dr. Hirschfeld confirm, “it is simply not possible for a civilization to vanish without a trace.” The argument is solid; even if every person was to move, die or be taken to another land as a slave, they would still leave behind some evidence of their existence; structures, human remains, coinage, or even a destroyed civilization.

The Masking: Gardner makes no attempt to argue the fact that an entire civilization cannot simply vanish without leaving a trace. He goes along and agrees with their statements: “Of course, all these experts are correct.” He even answers his own question, “Is there support for the Jaredites and Nephites in the New World outside of the Book of Mormon? No. On that we can agree.” After all, “in the real world civilizations leave traces.” Oddly enough, this is the very same argument the video makes. Gardner’s argument in this section however is one based upon context. He goes on further to state; “the problem does not lie with what these experts say but with the context in which their statements have been placed.” Gardner’s argument is based upon the premise that the film makers made it appear as though nothing in the New World existed from the Book of Mormon times, and that the experts presented in the video appeared to be placing “a final archaeological condemnation on a culture that should have left a trace and yet seems to be completely absent.” Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards the lack of texts that support the LDS position of the plausibility of the Book of Mormon civilizations.

The film brings clarity into the argument. We know the Canaanites existed based upon Egyptian sources Barkay spoke of; Gardner argues, “the problem is not that no remains have survived from the right place and time but rather that no texts have survived!” Rather than focus the remainder of his arguments upon alleged “remains” that have survived and exist, the segment focuses on drawing parallels to other cultures while neatly avoiding the lack of other evidences as well. Gardner focuses on “the very few texts” or early writing [10] that survived from the Book of Mormon times, which also do not correspond to the cities or areas believed to be associated with the Book of Mormon. Not only that, but as Gardner himself stated, “The Jaredites do not appear in the texts. The Olmec leave no texts.” The video argues that no texts exist to support the Book of Mormon, Gardner states; “The problem with the New World is not that the cultures were illiterate but that they wrote on perishable materials.” The remainder of the segment is based upon the premise that “if the Jaredites followed the Olmec culture and the Nephites followed the Mayan culture, then we have already distinguished between the two.” Alma 10:11 is used as proof text to suggest a connection between a household in the Book of Mormon and that of the Mesoamerican households. Even the plausibility of Amulek, living in a type of Mesoamerican household does not equate to factual evidence.

The Machine Reality: The video presents a verse taken out of Jarom 1:8, which speaks of the civilizations technological advancements:

“And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war—yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war. (Jarom 1:8)”

2 Nephi 5:15-16 also speaks of an “industrious” nation, who were taught to build buildings, work with all manner of wood, iron, copper, brass, steel, gold and silver. The text even goes so far as to boast, “the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.” The question posed in this segment is straightforward; where is the evidence of their ability to work with gold, silver, iron, copper, brass and steel? Where are the weapons of their warfare--sharp pointed arrows, quivers, darts and the javelins said to have been prepared for war? Where are the smelting sites to work with the ores mentioned?

The Masking: The argument made was concerning the perception of “machinery” and how Murphy and the video allowed the viewer’s perception of modern machinery to covey an unrealistic view of what is being presented in the Book of Mormon. Did Gardner answer the questions concerning the lack of evidence to support their technological advancements, or did he change the segment topic to one based upon the very definition of the word “machinery?”

Cities

The Reality: This segment alone captures many of the majestic landscapes and cities mentioned in the Bible. A wide scenic panorama displays Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. The producers walked through Bethsaida, and many more clips soon followed them; up the steps of Tel Hazor, through Hezekiah’s tunnel, shots of Tel Megiddo and Beth She’an. Todd Bolen, a professor of historical geography in Jerusalem had this to say: “The permanent settlements, all of them are well known and agreed upon by scholars in Israel today.” Many cities still retain their original Biblical names: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hazor, Meggido, Shiloh, Arad, Jericho, Capernaum, Chorazin, Nazareth etc., the list goes on and on. Many of these areas are still inhabited until today while others may be in ruins. Professor Bolen made these comments, “Jesus condemned these sites of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin. There’s no doubt, scholars know that these were real places that existed in His time and the evidence for them is certain.” The Biblical names have remained intact well over thousands of years.

The film presented Biblical cities that have retained their names throughout Biblical times, which were heavily contrasted with those mentioned in the Book of Mormon: Nephi, Manti, Sidom, Zarahemla, and Bountiful to name a few. Dr. Gabriel Barkay was asked, “Could a major city be conquered and not leave any of that evidence?” to which Barkay replied, “No way, by no means.” Expert commentary by New World archaeologist Hector Escobedo from Guatemala stated, “because of the advances in epigraphy, we are now able to read the ancient names of most of the sites.” When asked if he recognized any of the Book of Mormon names, Escobedo responded “No.”

Wilson goes on to tell us “there is no evidence as far as where Zarahemla is; which is one of the big cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon.” Murphy, filmed against the background of the archaeological site of Palenque, explains: “Here we are standing at Palenque today. The buildings that we see in front of us were, in fact, constructed several centuries after the events described in the Book of Mormon. So this could not possibly have been a Nephite city.”

The Masking: Gardner begins this section by stating, “Most of Escobedo’s statement is accurate.” Escobedo had stated earlier, “The advances in epigraphy have yielded the ancient names of most of the sites.” What Gardner doesn’t agree with is Escobedo’s usage of the word “most” to describe what Gardner considered to be an exaggeration of facts concerning the amount of names identified for some sites. Aside from the slight disagreement in Escobedo’s choice of words, Gardner willingly admits “For the greatest part of Book of Mormon history, we cannot identify the original names of sites because no texts remain to tell us the names.” Ultimately, he lends strength to the video’s presentation and goes on further to state:

The name Zarahemla may not have survived for the same reason that all but a handful of ancient names have not survived. Original names were lost and in most cases were replaced by the names the Aztecs used to refer to the locations, not what the natives of the area used earlier.

Gardner continues to focus his argument on Escobedo’s original statement, saying that the manner by which he used "most" could not be properly used in context to account for the thousands of archaeological sites in Guatemala alone. So while they have the ability to read thirty-eight sites out of the thousands found, the word “most” was misstated, as explained by Gardner. He goes on to suggest that the film’s comments about Mesoamerica and place-names are pure illusion. Yet the absence of evidence in support of the Book of Mormon remains in plain view. Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards Wilson’s dismissal of correlations made by Sorenson which tie the Book of Mormon geography to the Mesoamerica area. [11] Gardner himself stated “Probably he (Wilson) is simply indicating that Santa Rosa cannot be proven to be Zarahemla. That is certainly true.” Gardner again alleges to an illusion by the film makers stating “scholarship does not exist.” The experts in the video were sincere in presenting a film using real-world evidences confirmed through biblical accounts, not those based upon conjecture.

Murphy ends the segment on a personal note: “What I found in my anthropology classes was that my Christian friend was right [who said that you could walk in places mentioned in the Bible]. The Book of Mormon was wrong.” Gardner never responds to his own inability to walk through the places mentioned in the Book of Mormon, rather he elects to share his own experiences concerning the tools of “ethnohistory” as he stated were “directly applicable to understanding the Book of Mormon against a real-world background. But could Gardner or anybody else for that matter visit the lands mentioned in the Book of Mormon? No.


Flora and Fauna

The Reality: The film now directs its focus on the plants and animals described in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Professor Bolen states, “The Biblical world as reflected in the scriptures is matched by the plants and the trees.” Aside from lions which have been known to exist from the days of antiquity, we can still see many of the animals mentioned in the Bible today. In 1 Nephi 18:25, the Book of Mormon describes “beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men.” This section also focused on 2 Nephi 12:7 concerning a “land full of horses.” And in Mosiah 9:9, it reads: “..till the ground, yeah even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat and of barley…” The sharp contrast presented is between the abundance of evidence found for the Bible and the absence of animals and plants mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

The Masking: Gardner begins by trying to narrow the gap between the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He references Donald B. Redford, an archaeologist who noted that “camels are integral to the story of Gideon and appear throughout the early period of the Bible. Nevertheless, camels ‘do not appear in the Near East as domesticated beasts of burden until the ninth century B.C.’[12] He alleges to a second “optical illusion” where the video pans into an empty landscape while noting the Jaredite cities. The video quoted 2 Nephi 12:7 to describe “Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.” Gardner reflects upon the verse's connection to Isaiah 2:7, and draws his conclusion: “The only reasonable conclusion is that they intended to deceive.” He fails to explain, however, the many other references to horses and chariots found in the Book of Mormon. He then goes on to argue that the statements made are absolutely incorrect and alleges to a continued deception by the narration. The segment ends with Gardner vehemently ridiculing the film makers for even suggesting the mere plausibility that characters in the Book of Mormon used horses and chariots in wars as stated below:

Horses are never ridden. Horses are never described as pulling chariots (though we do see the phrase horses and chariots in the text). No battle scene includes either horses or chariots...Stories of riding horses into battle do not occur in the Book of Mormon. Wilson’s conclusion demonstrates that he has not read the Book of Mormon carefully or that he is simply willing to invent statements about it.

Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards the supposed sheer absurdity of trying to correlate men to riding horses and using chariots. Oddly enough, a simpler reading of texts certainly supports it. In fact, 3 Nephi 3:22 and following clearly presents horses and chariots en route to Zarahemla for battle.

We learn through 1 Nephi 18:25, that upon their arrival to the promised land (Mesoamerica 590—589 B.C.), they soon find cows, oxen, asses, horses, goats, ore, gold, silver and copper in grand supply within the land (2 Nephi 12:7). Later “many horses” were raised by the Nephites (Enos 1:21). We know that in Alma 18:9-12, horses were said to have been prepared in conjunction with chariots to serve as transportation for the king and his servants. A popular LDS painting depicts Ammon, leading young men into war. This very painting that is said to depict the beloved images of the Book of Mormon was also possibly conjured up by the painter through a simpler reading of the text. So while Gardner claims that it is wrong and deceitful for critics of the Church to assume these horses and chariots were actually ridden or used during actual warfare, it is very acceptable to host Arnold Friberg’s paintings depicting the very same image that scholars refute, in the Conference Center at the Museum of Church History and Art. The Book of Mormon claims they not only had horses, but raised them and even prepared them for trips in conjunction with chariots (Alma 18:9-12). Why is it so absurd to believe these ancient people would actually ride horses that are alleged to have existed?

Why did the “painter of scripture” depict a horse instead of a deer for his painting of “The Stripling Soldiers?” According to Friberg, "I put Helaman on a horse. . . . Of course the Book [of Mormon] does not say that Helaman rode a horse, but in [certain] other places it mentions them. Ammon was out taking care of the king's horses [at one point]."[13] If LDS scholars had orchestrated Friberg’s painting to accommodate the “serious scholarship” they promote, it would have left believers everywhere searching through Friberg’s painting for the punch line. Sorenson also wrote about the topic:

A prehispanic figure modeled on the cover of an incense burner from Popturn, Guatemala, shows a man sitting on the back of a deer holding its ears or horns, and a stone monument dating back to around A.D. 700 represents a woman astride the neck of a deer, grasping its horns. Then there is another figurine of a person riding an animal, this one from Central Mexico. Possibly, then, the deer served as a sort of “horse” for riding…we simply do not understand what might have been the nature of the “chariot” mentioned in the Book of Mormon in connection with “horses.” [14]

Without an exegesis of the original text (Reformed Egyptian), one can only read the texts in context, and according to Alma 18:9-12, it would be easy for anyone to draw the most likely conclusion; horses and chariots were used for traveling. This is only complicated when the horse is depicted as a deer according to scholarly linguistics and Mesoamerican correlations. Sorenson and others have referred to 3 Nephi 4:4, to suggest “their major use was as food.”[15] While Ether 9:17-19, identifies other animals as food for man, “And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man. And they also had horses and asses...”

Let us also reflect upon the other features of the film that were glossed over. For the sake of argument, the producers could have avoided 2 Nephi 12:7 and used 2 Nephi 5:15-16 or 1 Nephi 18:25, which also speaks of iron, copper, brass, steel, gold, silver, and precious ores which were in great abundance. Even if the verses were changed, the message conveyed by the producers of the video would not be any different. Murphy also went on to say, “We don’t see wheat, cattle, sheep, goats.” The Mayas did not have beasts of burden or horses. Nor were elephants present during the Book of Mormon times. In any case, Gardner fails to deliver an answer for this segment as well.


Metallurgy and Writing

The Metallurgy Reality: In 1 Nephi 18:25, along with mentioning the animals from the previous segment, it also relates to ore found; “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.” Wilson points out the dilemma facing LDS Scholarship, he states; “The Book of Mormon specifically stated that there was steel in the New World. It’s very easy to find the places where the steel is smelted. Even if you don’t find the steel objects, not a single site has been found that can be said, yes steel was smelted here.” Escobedo also goes on to state, “The Mayas didn’t use metals.” 1 Nephi 19, also makes mention of Nephi making plates of ore and recording the history of his people. Helaman 3:15 also speaks of “many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites.” Dr. Simon Gathercole, a professor of the New Testament at University of Aberdeen stated: “The idea that there could have been an empire that lasted for a thousand years that claimed to be literate and to be no historical trace at all is extremely far fetched.” The producers posed a question: “Any indication that the Ancient Americans between 600 B.C. and 400 A.D. would have written on metal plates?” To which Escobar replied “No, no.”

In the Bible, texts are abundant. Dr. Barkay is also credited with finding the earliest known part of the Bible preserved and written in the ancient Hebrew, dating around 7th century B.C. Dr. Williams stated that, “Every single book of the Old Testament, apart from possibly the book of Esther is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.” Dr. Phillip Johnston, a professor of the Old Testament at Oxford, stated “we have copies of the Old Testament books from the Dead Sea Scrolls from 200 to 100 B.C. Murphy makes this observation, “Where are the documents, where is the history that we find ample; abundant when we’re dealing with the Bible. Why don’t we find it with the Book of Mormon too?” Murphy goes on to state: “It would certainly help the situation if the Book of Mormon had a documentary trail, and artifacts that would support its claims. We might be able to refer to it then as a historical document.”

Reformed Egyptian is also mentioned in this segment, pointing out that mainstream Linguistics has never heard of it. Eliseo Fajardo also makes note of this in his findings: “There is no evidence, there is no trace of Hebrew, there is nothing in the glyph data that suggests even a hint of Hebrew writing.” Murphy goes on to mention that while it is possible to visit a museum and see the Dead Sea Scrolls laid out for all to view, you simply can’t do that with the Book of Mormon’s ancient documents because they simply don’t exist.

The Masking: Gardner alludes to a lack of understanding on Wilson’s part concerning the Book of Mormon by recalling supposed problematic statements made concerning horses from a previous segment. Yet the whole argument based upon horses and chariots being abundant and yet not being used at all for riding or pulling chariots is centered on the interpretation of scripture, one the LDS Church has no official position on. The problem Gardner attempts to convey has more to do with the actual translation of the world steel, and that it simply follows the King James Version of the Bible its is representation of the words.[16] In his reasoning and logic, because the KJV usage of steel is better translated as “brass” or “copper” then the same must be true for the Book of Mormon. Gardner chalks this one up as “another place where the Bible and the Book of Mormon can be shown to be very comparable…” Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards the idea that the word “steel” as presented in the Book of Mormon is merely a problem of translation that the Bible also shares in.

Gardner states that the majority of Latter-day scholars “concede that the evidence for metallurgy in Mesoamerica does not currently support what appears in the English text of the Book of Mormon.” This does not coincide with what Sorenson wrote:

In 1954 I published two articles that presented evidence for the existence of metal objects from Mesoamerican archaeological sites well before the accepted date of A.D. 900…One basic lesson we learn from this experience is that the experts were quite wrong. Metals were indeed in use in Book of Mormon times in Mesoamerica. [17]

Gardner ends the segment by lending some strength to the film stating: “If the film finds anything that may be problematic for the Book of Mormon, the lack of metallurgy might be it.” In the same breath he tries to brush off the lack of evidence for this segment as well: “basing an entire argument on the absence of something is a curious enterprise.” The arguments made by the film are not based upon the absence of any one thing, but upon the absence of the entire package that could prove the Book of Mormon is at the very least historical.

Language and Literacy

The Writing Reality: Much of the information for this segment was previously covered in under the segment topic: Metallurgy and Writing. Much like the previous segment, this one also asks the question: If the Nephites were indeed a culture rich in writing with claims of being literate, why can’t we find any traces of their existence today? Again, one of the experts, Dr. Simon Gathercole, a professor of New Testament at the University of Aberdeen, stated: “The idea that there could have been an empire that lasted for a thousand years, that claimed to be literate and for there to be no historical trace at all, is extremely far-fetched.” The comparison is striking, the Bible being rich in textual tradition while we find an absence of text supporting the Book of Mormon.

The Masking: Gardner attempts to make a case for the lack of textual evidence to support the Book of Mormon by stating; “With precious exceptions, the texts of the New World have perished either through nature or through Spanish zealotry.” He then focuses his argument onto what evidence can be found according to the given timeline: “The best sources of texts are those literally written in stone. These come from the Maya region and date to the Classic period. Very few texts exist for Book of Mormon times.”

Gardner is determined in drawing parallels between the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica, as he painstakingly spends ample time going over an epi-Olmec stela with glyph forms that appear to pre-date the Maya glyphs.[18] He continues to argue that writing did begin in Mesoamerica around the period of 700-400b.c. Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards an argument that focuses on the textual history of Mesoamerica, while still failing to provide factual evidence for the Book of Mormon. The remainder of the segment is spent on Aztec history and religion with some background information on Histoire du Mechique manuscript. This segment ends just as it began, with unanswered questions.

Another Language Reality: The film then shifts focus towards the claim of having the Book of Mormon translated from Ancient Reformed Egyptian. They follow the same approach as before by questioning experts. The narrator questions Dr. Simon Gathercole, a professor at the University of Aberdeen concerning a Hebrew’s ability to write in ancient reformed Egyptian around 600 B.C. Gathercole replies, “What’s ancient reformed Egyptian?” Wilson then explains the problems facing the Book of Mormon and its claims to have been translated from Reformed Egyptian. As Wilson put it, “Linguists and others will state that they’ve never heard of reformed Egyptian, unless they’re Mormon. . . . The reason why the mainstream linguists don’t have a thing to say about it is that it is a fictional language.”

The Unmasking: Gardner begins by quoting Mormon 9:32-34, which describes a language system distinctly unique to the Nephites, which had seemingly evolved within their culture over a 1,000 year period and according to their manner of speech. So distinct was the language that nobody else knew it according to these verses, “none other people knoweth our language…” This is widely noted to be one major reason why even expert Egyptologists have never heard or seen “Reformed Egyptian.” So although their original learned languages consisted that of the Jews and Egyptians (1 Nephi 1:2), the language they knew as Egyptian had changed into what is now known to be “Reformed Egyptian.” This is also why their script was unlike any other. Simply put, the reason experts today know nothing concerning “reformed” Egyptian is because they are trained in an Old World language of Egyptian and not the one spoken of in the Book of Mormon which is specific to the Nephites own distinctive language in Mesoamerica.

Again, the DVD focuses on the comparisons and evidences that can be seen, felt and openly studied. Gardner avoids this comparative topic entirely and re-directs his readers towards multiple reasons why nobody can identify Reformed Egyptian. While this may be an acceptable answer for LDS apologists, it still fails to provide solid factual evidence to support the existence of an alleged ancient language that nobody else knew except for the Nephites. Dever made similar arguments in his book:

Since nothing said or implied in the Book of Mormon about the “reformed Egyptian” writing characters hints that the Egyptian tongue was spoken in the Nephite promised land, we have no reason to expect scholars to find traces of Egyptian speech in the New World. Certainly no trace of it has been brought to light by linguists working in Mesoamerica.[19]

According to Leviticus and Deuteronomy, God specifically expressed His people’s preservation. The Jews have preserved their identity by heeding God’s warnings, responding to His Word and continually passing them down throughout generations. Not only in what they ate, or how they dressed, but in the language they spoke and scripture they committed to memory. Passing down and reinforcing structure and tradition to their children. [20] So how did a Hebrew civilization abandon these precepts and allow their entire culture and way of life to become blended into a neighboring culture along with taking on different forms of writing methods and speech as described in the Book of Mormon and speculated by LDS Apologists? This is greatly contrasted by the sacred language of the Hebrews, which has survived over thousands of years, having been persecuted over the centuries by Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and even by surrounding nations after the Holocaust. Repeatedly held as captives and scattered abroad by other nations, enduring the risks of intermarriage, and losing their national identity through cultural assimilation. This ancient language which dates back to about 3,200 years is still widely used today as an everyday spoken language. They have also preserved their ancient scripture once maintained through oral communication, stone tablets and “perishable” animal skins or parchment. While their language has undergone a considerable amount of change in dialect and languages, it still remains intact in its original classical Hebrew ( Lashon ha-Kodesh) form. The real ancient Hebrew people we see today have managed to maintain their identity even after loosing their native land and ceasing to exist as nation for many centuries. They have maintained their writings, language, customs and traditions. We cannot say the same for the alleged Hebrew people said to have existed in the Book of Mormon, theorized to have been blended into obscurity by LDS apologists.

Coins

The Reality: The next segment covered is the usage of coins in the Bible, such as the denarius, shekel and even the widow’s mite mentioned by Jesus in Luke 21:2. Many of these coins can still be purchased today through coin shops or by way of the internet. The film then covers how they find no coins anywhere in the Americas, therefore the most likely conclusion is that the Book of Mormon was incorrect. The Book of Mormon has continually used the term “coinage” in its header of Alma 11 since its editing back in the 19th century.

The Masking: Gardner begins his defense by explaining how the film has misrepresented the usage of “coins” based upon a header/excerpt in Alma, chapter 11 of the Book of Mormon. He argues that the displayed header which he states “was added in 1981” does not reflect the actual text or scripture of the Book of Mormon, and that the usage of coins refers to weights and measures similar to the Egyptian system. A question that begs to be answered in this segment is concerning the customs and traditions of those civilizations that were said to once be of Hebrew descent. How did this civilization decide which custom to keep and which to change? How is it possible that they had abandoned their Hebrew language and writing system, yet managed to hold onto an Egyptian system of currency while abandoning their ancient Hebrew traditions? And furthermore, where is the proof that Mesoamerica used even this type of currency measurement? There is currently no evidence to support Mesoamerica in this manner either, as mentioned by Sorenson:

“Certainly the “money” units given in Alma 11 were proportionate weights. The inappropriate term “coinage” in the chapter heading is an error due to nineteenth century editing, not a part of the ancient text. Research has also shown recently that relating measures of grain to values of precious metal, in the manner of Alma 11:4-19, was an Egyptian practice. Whether there was Mesoamerican weighed money we cannot say. No serious study of money usage there has ever been done.”[21]

So while Latter-day Saint scholars believe the usage coins refers to a measurement system with weights in gold, silver and other materials for wages etc., it is not a view that has been shared by the Church Presidency. (Nor, it should be stated, is there any evidence from Mesoamerica that precious metals were used--in any form--as currency.) The video does not focus on the LDS scholars' argument concerning the usage of a coinage system, but rather upon the implications made by Joseph Smith concerning Nephite coins and the lack thereof. The LDS Church has long since maintained this introduction to Alma 11 since the 19th century, with no signs of modifying its usage of the term “coins” even with all the textual analysis conducted by LDS scholars. So while it can be argued that no specific usage of coins as currency is mentioned in the Book of Mormon text itself, it was widely held to be true by past members of the Church, which is a testament to the header remains even today.

Warfare

The Reality: The Bible gives an account of numerous battles that have taken place throughout the history of the Israelites. Video footage also displays the numerous arrow heads found. Dr. Barkay also speaks of the layers of evidence found containing Assyrian arrowheads. Dr. Galor described the numerous arrow heads found, those of the Babylonians, those of locals and of the Assyrians. Dr. Barkay goes on to describe a small battle that occurred in First Century Palestine. The Roman’s had besieged 900 men, who had taken their own lives. The place was identified and excavated in the 1960’s, where they discovered skeletal remains, houses and coins. The archaeological evidence found at Masada provided clear evidence to a very tragic event that had taken place. Dr. Barkay makes it very clear, “No civilization can be wiped out in such a way that no remnant of it is left.” In chapter 15 of the Book of Ether, a large battle was said to have taken place; “there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.” Dr. Murphy asks the questions for which there are no answers:

“Where are these steel swords that led to the massacre of millions, where are the bodies, the remains, the skeletons of these millions of people? Where is the evidence of this ancient catastrophe? We don’t find it. We don’t find it in Central America, we don’t find it near Hill Cumorah in New York, it simply didn’t happen.”

Centuries later, the Lamanite nation was said to have destroyed the Nephite nation in another massive battle on the same Hill Cumorah. Wilson narrates Mormon chapters six through 8, in it he described the battle of Cumorah where the Nephites were hunted down by the Lamanites until every one of the Nephites were killed. The battle numbered the casualties in the tens of thousands, which equate to about two hundred fifty thousand dead. If archaeological evidence proves a small battle consisting of less than a thousand men occurred in the first century, why can’t it do the same for the Book of Mormon? A population so large, that it was said to have covered “all the face of the land” in the Book of Ether. These massive battles that were said to have taken place have failed to yield any evidence to support its incredible claim.

The Masking: Gardner’s reasoning allows him to gloss over the facts by stating “When one is looking for evidence of a battle, it is essential to dig at the location where the battle took place.” He goes on to state, “Most of the Book of Mormon battles take place on open fields, not in cities. Since the archaeological excavations concentrate on the cities, it is not very surprising that the remnants of large battles are not found there.” He attempts to correlate this with the presumed lack of evidence to support the Aztecs. In his reasoning, “The Aztecs fought tremendous battles, but archaeologists have not yet located great battlefields littered with bodies or artifacts….The lack of remnants of a battle for the Nephites no more means that there were no Nephites than the lack of evidence for Aztec battles means that there were no Aztecs.” Do we have archaeological evidence to support the existence of Aztecs? Yes. Do we have any for the civilizations mentioned in the Book of Mormon? No. Has Gardner or the LDS Church provided any? No. Gardner simply refuses to allow observation to interfere with his conclusions.

The Cumorah Reality: Palmyra, New York is home to the Hill Cumorah, the place where many travel annually to watch the famed pageant that features the final scenes which are widely believed to have occurred in that very location as depicted in the Book of Mormon. It is also a widely held belief that Moroni supposedly buried the gold plates in that very hill sometime after 421 A.D. The same Moroni is believed to have appeared to Joseph Smith as an Angel and eventually directs him to the hill to recover the golden plated records of an ancient civilization. Murphy recalls a memory from his childhood: “Growing up Mormon, I was always taught that the Hill Cumorah was the location of the culminating events of the Book of Mormon.” To this day, no evidence of the final battles mentioned in the Book of Mormon has been found at the Hill Cumorah.

The Masking: Gardner agrees this was a widely held belief, one that his own childhood also shared in: “I was taught the same thing.” He then proceeds to explain why no evidence of the final battles mentioned has been found: “Why do we not find evidence of the final battles at the New York hill? Because those battles happened thousands of miles away. It is not surprising to find nothing when you look for something in the wrong place.” He goes on to mention how the Latter-day Saint scholarship since the 1950’s has argued that the texts concerning Cumorah place it in Mesoamerica, as opposed to New York, the site affirmed by LDS presidents and apostles. Gardner fails to point out that much of the disagreement concerning the location of the Hill Cumorah is also ongoing within the LDS movement. Those of the LDS faith are then left to decide whom to follow, the words of the LDS Prophet and the presidency, or LDS scholars who don’t have the authorization to interpret scripture. In any case, there is still no evidence to prove either position held by the parties.

The video’s focus of the Hill Cumorah were not based upon popular scholarly arguments, but upon the Church’s belief and official position concerning the Hill Cumorah and the events believed to have occurred there. If the Gardner truly wishes to continue arguing his point on the exact location of the Hill Cumorah and place it somewhere in Mesoamerica, he first needs to begin with his own Church Presidency.

Temples

The Reality: This segment of the DVD focuses on an unfounded belief, one that presumes it was okay to build Temples outside of Jerusalem because others had done so in the past. The Book of Mormon’s mention of a Nephite temple in 2 Nephi 5:16 clearly contradicted Jewish law. An expert on the matter is Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. Rabbi Richman goes on to state: “Any person who studies the Bible understands the centrality of worship here in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. The very idea of a temple anywhere other than Mount Moriah is a total impossibility. The Jews are literally not allowed to erect a temple anywhere in the world except for right here.” One need only to review Deuteronomy 12:1-14, and a few verses to understand the mandates on the centrality of worship conducted in Jerusalem. [22]

The Masking: Gardner challenged the Rabbi’s opinion by reflecting upon supposed historical reality. He quotes Dever, concerning a temple that had been erected in Arad [23] along with quoting Hugh W. Nibley, trying to pass off the idea that it was acceptable to build other temples outside of Jerusalem, when scripture and history clearly condemned these actions. Gardner had stated, “When Nephi built a replica of Solomon’s temple, he was simply doing what others had done and would yet do.” What Gardner failed to mention is that those “others” who built temples outside of Jerusalem were not only condemned by scripture; they were apostate and worshipping golden calves, and making priests out of anybody who desired to be a priest outside of the Levitical priesthood. [24] This is why reformers such as Hezekiah and Josiah took great lengths in destroying these apostate temples and the cultic items, such as the high places, sacred pillars and the wooden images associated with them. [25] Those who didn’t tear down the high-places continued to be criticized by scripture.[26] Historical and archaeological evidence also revealed a form of Yahwistic paganism, a practice that involved supplementing the worship of Yahweh with that of Ashera and other deities, who were also included in their blessings as noted in Dever’s book:

“Aharoni argued that here again we have archaeological evidence of the reforms of Hezekiah (others said Josiah), who abolished local sanctuaries in order to favor the Jerusalem Temple. I would go further to suggest that both the bronze lion and the pair of standing stones show that Asherah, the “Lion Lady,” was worshipped alongside Yahweh at Arad, and perhaps a century or more before this became a problem for religious reformers. A Hebrew inscription on this store jar is a blessing-formula, ending with “May X be blessed by Yahweh of Samaria and by his Asherah.” Other Hebrew inscriptions also mention Asherah, as well as El and Ba’al, alongside Yahweh.”[27]

In John 4:20-23, the Samaritan woman says, “you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” A mandate noted by Rabbi Richman. Jesus goes on to say, “You worship what you do not know” referring to Samaritans and “others.” Jesus goes on to say, “We know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews” In John 2:16, Jesus also recognized the Temple in Jerusalem as “My Father’s house.” Jesus also journeyed there for the feasts and taught from its courts.[28]

Conclusion

Mr. Gardner expends considerable energy and verbiage on convoluted arguments in order to combat what are very simple and straightforward challenges to the Book of Mormon, yet does not directly address any of them. While accusing the producers of being illusionists, he himself presents many illusions with his own tactics of misdirection.

The message of the film is clear: the Bible's geography is clearly established. Old World archaeology and external history corroborate many places, events, and people described in the Bible. The Bible has an extensive textual history which establishes it as an ancient text. These are established facts, not religious suppositions.

The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, relies entirely on grasping-at-straws speculation and conjecture for any connection to the real world. Vague geographical correlations are cited but not established. Spurious connections are attempted between New World archaeology and the Book of Mormon story, but do not hold up under minimal scrutiny. And as for a textual history, it rests entirely upon the word of a handful of men that lived in the 19th Century.

Is the Book of Mormon comparable to the Bible? Certainly not in any way that can be established by examining real-world evidence. And shouldn't faith be based on something that is real?

____________________________________

REFERENCES

[1] William G. Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know, and When Did They Know It? What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel ( Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 21.

[2] Matthew Roper, “Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations,” FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 225–75.

[3] John E. Clark, “Book of Mormon Geography,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1:178.

[4] John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985).

[5] John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Map ( Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000).

[6] John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985): pg. 15

[7] Book of Mormon, Ether 14:11, 22-23; 15:2.

[8] Sorenson, Ancient American Setting, 141, 152, 168, and others.

[9] John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985): pg. 141

[10] Joyce Marcus, Mesoamerican Writing Systems: Propaganda, Myth, and History in Four Ancient Civilizations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 32.

[11] Sorenson, Ancient American Setting, 152–57.

[12] Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 277.

[13] The Book of Mormon Art of Arnold Friberg: "Painter of Scripture" Vern G. Swanson. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001. Pp. 36–35

[14] John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985): pg. 295-296

[15] John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985): pg. 296

[16] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, 22nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 933, s.v. “steel.”

[17] John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985): pg. 278

[18] John Justeson and Terrence Kaufman, “Un desciframiento de la escritura jeroglífica epi-olmeca: métodos y resultados,” Arqueologia (July–December 1992): 15–25, for information on the translation. The information on the relationship of the epi-Olmec glyphs to the Maya forms is from John Justeson, personal communication.

[19] John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985): pgs. 78-79

[20] Numbers 15:38-39; Deuteronomy 4:9; 5:29-31; 6:7; 11:19; 22:12; 32:7; Psalm 78:6-7

[21] John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Books and FARMS, 1985): pp. 232-33.

[22] 1 Kings 8:44,48; 11:13,32,36; 14:21; 2 Kings 21:7; 23:27; 1 Chronicles 28:4; 2 Chronicles 6:6; 7:12,16; Psalm 78:68-69; Isaiah 18:7

[23] Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know? 181.

[24] 1 Kings 12:25-31; 1 Kings 13:31-33

[25] 2 Kg 18, 22; 2 Chron. 29:1-2

[26] 2 Kings 15:34-35

[27] Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know? Pg: 174-175, 181, 183-184

[28] John 7:10; Mark 14:49


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