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BoM: South America, Heartland, Meso (Part 3 of 6)

We’re into part 3 of our look at Book of Mormon geography theories. This time, we’ll cover 3 of the more popular theories: South America, the Heartland, and Mesoamerica.

GT:  I will tell you what. This was one of the first Book of Mormon geography models that I had ever heard. About 20 years ago, my girlfriend, at the time, who is now my wife, we went on a trip to Hawaii. We went to a branch in Hawaii and the branch president was a big proponent of this model. It was kind of funny, because he was really a big fan of Venice Priddis.  George Potter has kind of some variations on this model, as well. His website is http://nephiproject.com. There’s another guy by the name of Del Dowdell at http://nephicode.blogspot.com. I don’t want to say all three of these theories are the same, but they’re, as far as locationally, they’re very similar. The idea is the Incas were the Lehites or the Lamanites and Nephites. I know that Venice Priddis spent a lot of time, similar with the Baja theory.  They brought seeds and the seeds grew in the Americas.

GT:  The problem with Venice’s map here is that this was true about 18 million years ago. So, your timeline is a bit off. Of course, I’ve got a link to the Smithsonian Magazine there. So, that’s a big problem, being off 18 million years. So, it’s kind of hard to argue that that’s what the land was like when Lehi landed here. So, some pros of the South American theory, if you believe that the Amazon Basin River was flooded, then you do have a north/south Peninsula. It’s at the wrong time period, though. It’s got a similar climate to the Mediterranean. The peninsula matches. The distances are an okay match. Church leaders actually embrace North and South America as land of the Nephites.

GT:  The Heartland theory, I don’t know if Jonathan Neville is here. He’ll probably correct me on a few things. I know that Meldrum, May and Neville kind of all have slightly different takes on this theory, but this is the one that I found. It kind of gives you an idea of where Zarahemla, Lehi and Nephi–places are, Cumorah. One of the benefits of this theory is, this is kind of where Joseph Smith grew up. He was familiar with the legends of the Indians or the Native Americans. So, you can see that a lot of this would have been incorporated with Joseph Smith’s thinking. Once again, this looks like a really large section of area. I don’t think it fits the limited geography theory. Whether you believe Sorenson or not, you’ve got to say a lot of the work he’s done on distances, makes a lot of sense. So, this seems a bit more spread out than it probably should be. We’re talking thousands of miles, when we probably should be in the hundreds of miles as far as differences.

GT:  Once again, it’s not a north/south peninsula. It has several candidates for your narrow neck of land. Mississippi or Missouri rivers are plausible for a river Sidon.  Lakes could be reasonably construed as seas. It’s very near the Hill Cumorah, so you’ve got your one Cumorah theory. I know Rod has spent a lot of time, and I’m going to talk about this in a couple of slides here, claiming that he solved the Middle East problem with the X lineage.  He’s going to call that a pro. I’m actually going to call that a con, but I left it in the pros here for now.

GT:  The Mound Builder culture likely influenced Joseph Smith. Cons: you’ve got the elephants, horses, plants problem. The Mound Builders just don’t have the technology to build a temple like unto Solomon. There were no chariots. There were no wheeled vehicles. Technologically, the Mound Builders were more kind of Stone Age technologically. It seems unlikely that the Book of Mormon never mentioned snow. The climate doesn’t seem to match, especially when you’re getting into the Great Lakes region. It seems to me, I’m speaking on my behalf and so people may question this. But I’m going to say, it seems like Rod loves to mix science with religion. He will use a lot of quotes from early church leaders that support his theory and then he will ignore some of the other ones. I know there’s a quote where Joseph Smith said–the South American proponents say that Lehi landed at 30 degrees south latitude and Rod just kind of ignores that completely. Sorenson basically says that Joseph didn’t know everything and so [you can discount the Hemispheric Model.]

GT:  Moving on to Mesoamerican theory. This is Dr. Sorensen’s theory. Like I said, this probably has the most scholars behind it. You’ve got Sorensen’s map on the top.  There are other variations like Garth Norman. I’m trying to get Garth on my podcast.[1] He has a different candidate for the River Sidon and he takes a few issues, but basically, the overall map is pretty similar. You can see you’ve got the land Bountiful, land Desolation. Once again, as we look at this, if this is your narrow neck of land, it’s more of an east/west orientation than north/south. So, that’s a little bit of a problem. I know Sorenson puts a lot in the Yucatan Peninsula as well. Sorenson has a couple of books. You can purchase them there, the bottom one there, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon is probably the most scholarly one.[2]

GT:  You’ve got Brant Gardner’s review.  Brant’s a big fan of the Mesoamerican theory. I would say that the majority of people that believe in a literal Book of Mormon probably support this theory the most.  BYU also put out another DVD. It’s also called Journey of Faith: the New World. So, it talks mostly about the Central American theory/Mesoamerican theory. The pros: it’s supported by most scholars. It’s the best researched.  All other limited geography theories depend on Sorensen’s work. Your distances match. He seems to have identified the old Olmec and the Maya as the–the Olmec are the Jaredites and the Maya are the Lamanites and Nephites. Sorenson has identified pre-Columbian contact.  Some of the cons: it’s more of an east/west orientation rather than north/south.  The Yucatan Peninsula is not really that narrow. The DNA doesn’t match. Once again, how did the plates get to New York? Sorenson proposes a two Cumorah theory, where the last battle took place in Central America and then Moroni had 30 years to get it to New York. So in 30 years, you can move anything. Still has a problem with elephants, horses, plants, etc. All of the American theories suffer from that.

[1] Unfortunately, Garth Norman and John Sorensen both passed away in December 2021.

[2] Mormon’s Codex is available at https://amzn.to/3eNGxPA

What are your thoughts?  Check out our conversation….

The 3 most popular theories are South America, the Heartland, & Mesoamerica.

Check out our previous conversations!

601: Malay, Baja, New York

600: BoM Geography: From Middle East to Africa

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Vanishing DNA? Lamanite DNA Shouldn’t Vanish

We’re continuing our conversation with Dr. Simon Southerton.  We’re going to talk about vanishing DNA.  Is it possible that Lehite DNA simply vanished from the Americas?  Simon says no, but I’ll ask him about some other possible cases.

 

 

GT:  Well his point is we know the Vikings were here.  We can see their settlements.  We can’t find any DNA from them. So, he sees the parallel with the Lehites.  We can’t find their DNA.  So, you don’t agree with that parallel?

Simon:  Well I can see the point he is trying to make.  He is just trying to create, “Yes, we can’t find them.”  But it just bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon account.  What we need to hear, we don’t need to hear the DNA excuses for why we can’t find their DNA.

What people need to hear from the church is an explanation, a new narrative, an explanation for the Book of Mormon narrative.  How do we fit this vanishing story with the text, the scripture?  If you read the scripture it is really quite clear that they were very significant populations of people.  So, the Nephites and Lamanites were fighting each other for a thousand years but they still referred to each other as their brethren.  How does that go on for a thousand years when you’re just a tiny little people?

I’ll also ask Simon about Rodney Meldrum’s claims to have found Middle Eastern DNA here in North America.  What does Simon think of Meldrum’s claims?

Simon:  I’ve been less critical of Meldrum than the FARMS[1] guys.  They called him a snake-oil salesman, which he is.  But he’s a salesman, he is not a scientist.  He’s a joke.  He doesn’t understand the science.  He thinks that the scientists foolishly overlooked the connection of the X-lineage to the Middle East, and his whole business is built on his X-lineage claim, and he’s wrong.  It’s completely wrong.

We heavily reference our conversation with Dr. Perego.  If you haven’t seen it, or have forgotten, I encourage you to check out our interview with Perego!  Check out our conversation…..

Dr. Simon Southerton says it is unlikely that DNA would vanish
Dr. Simon Southerton says it is unlikely that DNA would vanish

[1] FARMS stands for Foundation of Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.  This is an informal collaboration of academics devoted to Latter-day Saint historical scholarship.  In 2006, the group became a formal part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, formerly known as the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, BYU. FARMS has since been absorbed into the Maxwell Institute’s Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies.  For more info, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_for_Ancient_Research_and_Mormon_Studies

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What is the Cohen Haplotype? Do Lamanites Have It?

We’re continuing our discussion with Australian researcher, Dr. Simon Southerton. In this next episode, we’re going to dig into the science deeper.  What is the Cohen Haplotype?

GT:  I know the Cohen haplotype is this genetic marker…

We’ll also talk about the Lemba Tribe.

Simon:  All the Cohen is, is a particular Y-Chromosome which was present in the Lemba Tribe.  Now this is a tribe, they look African.  They are in Zimbabwe,[1] which is what—is that its current name?  Yes, I think that’s its current name.  They had oral traditions that were Jewish.  They built very significant stone-walled cities, but most scholars rejected the fact that they were Jewish.

It’s not uncommon for native people all around the world to claim that they have got Jewish ancestry.  The Polynesians loved the fact that they think they are Jewish, because it ties them into the sort of Christian world that they like.  Anyway, it was rejected, and then they did the DNA work and they found that they have got a Semitic Y-Chromosome, in particular this Y-Chromosome which seems particularly common in the males of the priestly class, the Jewish priestly class.  So, it just confirmed conclusively that there was Jewish DNA that arrived down there.

How is that helpful for looking for Book of Mormon DNA in the Americas?

Simon: Yes, it is a clear case of how DNA, even though it is a fairly small incursion of DNA, they have been able to track it.

GT:  Would you expect to find something similar in the Americas if that were the case?

Simon:  I didn’t expect to see every single Native American being a Jew, having Jewish DNA. I thought at least there had to be something.  I don’t know what that percentage is, but we’re down now to nothing.  Fifteen and a half thousand Native Americans have been tested, their mitochondrial DNA tested.  It’s all Asian with a smattering of African, there is quite a lot of African DNA.

Simon will talk about some of the newer DNA testing done on Native Americans, and why it doesn’t bode well for those searching for Middle Eastern DNA here. Don’t forget to check out our previous conversation with Simon, as well as Dr. Ugo Perego’s discussion on the Lemba Tribe.  Check out our conversation…..

Cohen Haplotype is found among Jews. Is it found in Native Americans? What is the Lemba Tribe?
Cohen Haplotype is found among Jews. Is it found in Native Americans? What is the Lemba Tribe?

[1] Some Lemba live in South Africa also.