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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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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

 

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Why Isn’t there a Match with DNA & Book of Mormon? (Part 1)

DNA & Book of Mormon: It’s a favorite topic of anti-Mormons because evidence seems to show that Native Americans came from Asia rather than from the Middle East as the Book of Mormon implies.  Dr. Ugo Perego is a population geneticist.  How does he explain this?  Would you be surprised that he talks about concubines?

Ugo:  We cannot deny scientifically that there were people here before Lehi.  We don’t know anything about the Jaredites really.  We think we know but we don’t know anything about the Jaredites.  Could the Jaredites play any role with pre-Lehites?  We don’t know to what extent.  We know there were people, probably millions of people.

So Lehi’s family comes.  They come from Jerusalem.  These people that are here come from Asia.  They are closely related genetically to Asian people.  Lehi’s family comes, 30, 40, 50 people.  There are the Mulekites that are coming too.  We don’t know how many.  We don’t know if they are a population isolated.  We don’t know if they mix with locals.  People say, “The Book of Mormon doesn’t say anything about others here, so they didn’t exist.”  True, but the Book of Mormon is also summary.  It is not a full record.  It’s what Mormon decided to put in there, and if its focus is to bring people to Christ, it’s going to talk about what people were doing to get ready or not ready for that.  It’s going to leave a lot of the details out.

This is first generation.  Is that possible that because they had the gospel and they encounter other people and then teach them the gospel and they become part of their group?  You go to Jacob chapter two.  Jacob, first generation in the Book of Mormon lands, how many people are there right now of that group, the original group?  How long have they been there?  In Jacob chapter two is frustrated with the Nephites for taking too many wives and too many concubines.  You have got a group of people that are what, 60-70, they are all cousins.  Where do you get these concubines from?  How are you satisfying your sexual desires with this?

Actually I’ve been doing some discussions lately with some other people around here, according to Israelite tradition, because in the Old Testament it talks about concubines, and Hagar was a concubine of Abraham.  The reference to concubine usually—you can take wives, multiple wives according to Jewish tradition.  They are wife as long as they are part of your same culture or your same social status.  But concubines are usually foreign women.  They do not have the same status as your family, so you treat them as some sort of wife, there is a legal binding, but they do not have the same status.  Could it be that the Nephites were doing the same, some foreign women, some local indigenous women?

GT:  Today with ISIS[1] in the Middle East, a lot of times they are taking these Yazidi women and they are basically sex slaves.  Is that kind of…?

Ugo:  Sex slaves, that’s another word for concubine.  It depends culturally where you are.  Sex slaves is probably the worst situation you can have.  I mean you are really there only to satisfy sexual pleasure.  Concubine has some rights as well.  In fact even today with Islam you can have up to four wives and as many concubines as you want but the problem is that when the husband dies, the inheritance only goes to the first four wives.  As long as the man is alive, the concubines have the same rights as the women, the same lifestyle or status, but then when the husband dies they don’t get anything.  They leave.

Then you have Jacob chapter seven, you have Sherem, the first anti-Christ that goes to Jacob and he says, “I have been looking for a long time to meet with you.”  How long does it take to meet somebody that just came with you from across the ocean?  You were on the same ship together for heaven’s sake.  How long does it take to talk together?

Then he says, in verse 4, Jacob 7:4 he says that Sherem was much learned with the language of the people.  Why would you have to make that reference about him knowing the language if he was part of the same group?  Why did he have to learn that language?

Ugo:  if there were really a lot of people here and Lehi’s group was very small, and there was as it looks like from these Book of Mormon passages that we talk about it, some sort of mixture, intermingling, their DNA would have disappeared within five or six generations.

GT:  Really?

Ugo: Yeah.

What do you think of his explanation?  Was Lehi’s group so small that it is impossible to detect?  In our next episode, we’ll talk about the Lemba Tribe.  This is an African Tribe that seems to have Jewish DNA.  (We touched on this previously in our conversations with Jim Vun Cannon and David Rosenvall.)  Are there differences between the Lemba Tribe and the Lamanites?

 

[1] ISIS stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” Taking advantage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as well as the Syrian Civil War, the group took over large swaths of land between 2006-2017 in Iraq and Syria, capturing, torturing, and killing local populations and forcing conversions to a brutal brand of Islam.  They have claimed responsibility for several high profile terrorist acts.