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Mark’s Million-Dollar Con

In LDS circles, Mark Hofmann is most well-known for the Salamander Letter, a forgery that threatened the founding stories of the LDS Church.  What gets lost on the conversation is an even more audacious forgery, Oath of a Freeman.  In 1985, Mark Hofmann attempted a Million-dollar con.  Shannon Flynn describes this document.

It is the first known printed document in what is now the United States of America.  A printing press was brought from England over to America, and it was operated by a guy named Stephen Crane.  He was the first professional printing press printer in the United States.  The first item that he printed was a single sheet of paper called the Oath of a Freeman.  The fourth one is actually known, and there are copies available, and it is called Bay Psalm Book.

The Oath of a Freeman is very interesting because what it does is it was printed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony and it is a way for the people that were participating in that Massachusetts Bay Colony that religious organization to essentially sign an oath of fidelity to the new group, and say I’m here, and I’m part of this group.  It starts out, “I,” and then the letters “ab,” which are supposed to be for your name, and you say, “I will follow the rules of the group.”  I’m just paraphrasing it.  You can find it and read it.  The interesting part was it said nothing about England.  So it turns out in a strange way, it is the first seed of revolution.

Shannon describes how Mark made the document, planted it, and then tried to sell it to the Library of Congress for $1.5 million documents.  It was the most expensive document at the time, although the LDS Church just purchased the Printer’s Manuscript from the Community of Christ for $35 million.  Don’t forget to learn how he started forging coins to this audacious forgery.  Check out our conversation…


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Did Perego write the Gospel Topics Essay on DNA?

In January 2014, the LDS Church produced a new Gospel Topics Essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon.  I asked Dr. Ugo Perego if he had anything to do with writing that essay.  I think you’ll find his answer very interesting.

Ugo:  I actually took the lead on the project of writing that.  I wrote a much more extensive paper which has been published as well in the Interpreter, the online Mormon journal.  It’s about 40 pages long and then from that the Church condensed it down to what is the in Gospel Topics today. Some people will say, well if this is doesn’t say—they wanted to keep it short.  There are a lot of footnotes.  You can go and read more.  You have the full article on the other page.  There is another article with me in the other article[1], a more extensive article, and then we have several geneticists, even known Latter-day saint geneticists that I sent the manuscript, and asked, “what do you think about it?”  Forget that you don’t know, or you know about the Book of Mormon, but does the story make sense with the genetic context.  Am I presenting genetics and the principles in a fair manner, an honest manner?  I incorporated their feedback, and then I submitted that to the Church and that’s what we have today.  I was the main guy behind it but it was others, even known LDS geneticists that were involved.

[1] Other author is Jayne E. Ekins.  See http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/is-decrypting-the-genetic-legacy-of-americas-indigenous-populations-key-to-the-historicity-of-the-book-of-mormon/

We’ll also talk about Rodney Meldrum’s claim to have found DNA in Native Americans here in the Americas.

Rod Meldrum honestly, the Heartlanders, the people who promote the Book of Mormon geography in North America, and I don’t have a problem if they like to put the Book of Mormon there but as of today, we have absolutely no genetic evidence of their claims.  Fortunately they are hammering that nail DNA continually, saying that DNA is proving their theory, but it is not.  They can have other good evidence to support their theory but they should not use today DNA.  Maybe down the road there will be some new discoveries that will change how we are interpreting the data today, and we might be saying, oh maybe it was Middle Eastern.  Maybe we’re going to find X2A in Jerusalem that we never found before, right?  But as of today there is no evidence.

Critics of the Book of Mormon say this is the nail in the coffin.  Rod Meldrum says this is the nail in the coffin for his theory.  It depends how you look at it.  I honestly think that we are far from using DNA in favor or against the Book of Mormon.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our discussion about DNA and the Book of Mormon.  Check out our conversation…..

 

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How Do Lemba Tribe & Vikings Relate to DNA & Book of Mormon? (Part 2)

We’re continuing our series on DNA & Book of Mormon.  How to Lemba Tribe & Vikings DNA relate to the Book or Mormon?  If you’ve listened to my interviews on the Book of Mormon, I’ve asked a few people, like Jim Vun Cannon and David Rosenvall about the Lemba Tribe in Africa.  They’re a tribe that has Middle Eastern DNA, unlike Native Americans who don’t. Dr. Ugo Perego gives a good introduction into the Lemba Tribe, and why similar DNA is or is not found in America.

Lemba Tribe from Africa

 

Ugo: The Lemba Tribe is an African tribe.  Traditionally they claim to have Jewish ancestry but physically they are African.  They did this DNA study, this was done several years ago, and actually things have changed a little bit since then.  The original thing that made a huge impact that people still remember is the fact that Jewish researchers identified a marker among Jewish families called the Cohen haplotype.

Cohen is the priestly class.  It’s a surname which is linked back in time of the Levi or Aaron, brother of Moses, and that would be the priestly class that was found among the different Israelite tribes.  The first research says we identified these markers.  It’s very dominant among the Cohen families which traditionally was the priestly family.  They have the marker.  The other families don’t have it as much as they do.

Do all the Cohen people have the marker?  No.  Do people that are not Cohen have the marker?  Yes, but the majority of the Cohens has it, so they are linking to them.  It’s never 100%, it’s never all or none.  They have it.  We link it to Jewish families, we link it to the priestly class.  Now the Lemba Tribe says we are part of the Jewish family too.  They found the Cohen haplotype among them as well, so you think genetically it makes more sense.

GT:  Right.  The story that I remember, it seemed to me, and correct me if I’m wrong.  It seemed to me they kind of had a similar story as Book of Mormon people.  They both left Jerusalem about the same time.

Ugo: Yes.

GT:  600 B.C. In the case of the Lemba tribe, they travelled through and ended up in southern Africa, married with the local population, and they have this…

Ugo interrupts: this marker.  That’s the simple story.  There are other things that could happen.  One of them is that Jews accept converts.  You are not biologically a Jew only because you are …{pauses}

GT:  born Jew.

Ugo: born Jew.  They accept converts.  What I think is that most of these Lemba thing could also be a result of a sort of a mixture, some sort of founder effect, but not much as a migration as much as they thought, maybe like a few people that came and had an interaction and then there was maybe this gene that spread.  Another thing that they discovered, this is today’s knowledge.

This marker is found among all of the Middle Eastern population, not just Jews.  It pre-dates Aaron’s time.  Arabs have it.  Muslims have it.  It matches other types of markers.  It is not Jewish-specific or Jerusalem-specific marker.  It’s a lot more spread and common than we think it is.

It’s good.  They did a study on a Jewish population.  They did a study on another population, and they did find something in common between them.

Viking versus Columbus DNA

We’ll also talk a little bit about Viking DNA. Can that be distinguished from Columbus DNA?

Ugo:  Do you think we can determine DNA from 1800 versus DNA from 1000 A.D. from Europe found in America?

GT:  I would think so.

Ugo: The answer is no.  Do you know the Vikings were in Greenland from 1000-1400 A.D., 400 years?  We have written documentation that they were here, the Icelandic woman actually kept their record of their voyages.[1]  We have villages, remains of Viking villages in Greenland that around 1400, they just left.  They just left.  We also have DNA from Native Americans in Iceland, which pre-dates Christopher Columbus, that’s been there.  So we know probably these Vikings took some women to Iceland, and that’s why we have their DNA there.  But where is the Viking DNA in America?

GT:  That’s a great question.  I have no idea.

Ugo: Well I’m sure it’s there, but there is not enough time for the post-Columbus DNA, to differentiate it from the pre-Columbus DNA.  So whenever we find European, Middle Eastern, or African DNA in the Americas, even among tribes, native tribes, by default, scientists always say, we think this is post-Columbian admixture.  But we don’t know, because the rate of mutation of DNA is not as fast as 100 years or 200 years.

Mitochondrial DNA, we actually measure one mutation every 5,000 years, mitochondrial DNA, which is one of the studies that have been done.  So the point is we do find European DNA among Native tribes, but we always think that came with the Spaniards or with the Europeans.  The first 200 years that they were here, they did whatever they wanted.

So you go to a reservation and you test a hundred people, you find 60 of them that might have Native American DNA, and then you find 40 that have European DNA.  You think, well, this is the Spaniard mixing with them.  They kept culturally their identity, but genetically we don’t know.  We don’t know where that came.  2,600 years ago is not enough time to differentiate DNA from Europe, from post-Columbian to pre-Columbian DNA.  It took 15,000 years for DNA to slightly differentiate it from the Asian counterpart.

Even today if you take a DNA test with Ancestry.com or with 23andMe or Family Tree DNA, they put Asian and Native American together in the same group, because they can’t make the differentiation.  So if you find European DNA in a native group, you put it with Europe, but you think by default.  In fact if you read any paper by any population scientist, they will not say, this is post-Columbian DNA.  They say, most likely it is post-Columbian DNA, but we don’t know.

Were you aware that scientists can’t distinguish between Viking DNA and Columbus DNA?  Do you think it’s possible that the DNA from Lamanites simply can’t be distinguished?  Check out our conversation…..

 

[1] Her name is Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir.  Basic information is found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gudrid_Thorbjarnard%C3%B3ttir