Book of Mormon Convergences

Sometimes it becomes useful to be able to quickly list some of the many evidences that point towards an ancient Book of Mormon origin. The following list was, I have been told, put together by LDS Mesoamericanist and author Brant Gardner.

Gardner can be seen here describing what a convergence is and how they are used.

Geospatial convergences

Internal geography corresponds to a specific region in Mesoamerica
Book of Mormon has over 400 geographic references which are consistent in their interrelationships, both spatial and topological.
Sorenson’s correlation is best known. Poulsen’s is an important alternative using the same basic area, but resolving directional issues.
One set of references in Helaman may combine to point specifically to Teotihuacán
Relative relationships of Jaredite, Nephite and Lamanite territories.
The meeting of Mulekites and Nephites in the Grijalva River Valley is convergent with archaeological evidence of the movement of Zoquean speakers up the Grijalva and meeting with Maya influences.

Chronological convergences

Geography and ethnic chronology
Time depth convergence between Jaredite and Olmec civilizations and some Maya and the Nephites.
Decline of San Lorenzo corresponds to the timing of a major drought in the book of Ether for the same time and general geography.

Book of Mormon reflects preexilic, pre-Josian-reform Israelite religion appropriate to 600 B.C.
Emphasis on an atoning Messiah
Conceptual relationship between Yahweh and the Most High God.

Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican chronology
Beginning social development in the Middle Preclassic:
Mesoamerican evidence indicates that the development of social hierarchies began with “aggrandizers” who used polygamous families to increase trade goods.
Jacob specifically argues against twin “evils,” social hierarchy and polygamy during this time period.
Pressures for kingship increase in the Middle Preclassic and similar pressures are evidenced in the Book of Mormon.
Increasing warfare evident in the archaeological record. In the Book of Mormon warfare moves from raids to wars during the same period.
Movement of Cholan speakers into Kaminaljuyu around 200 B.C. converges with the political pressure that resulted in Mosiah1’s departure for Zarahemla.
Records of several volcanic eruptions and social displacements around the time of Christ converges with the description of the destruction at that time the Book of Mormon, which in turn corresponds to volcanic activity.
The abrupt change in the nature of warfare occasioned by the Teotihuacano incursion into the Maya Lowlands corresponds in time and features with Mormon’s laments in the book of Mormon about the change in the nature of warfare.

Cultural convergences

Economic
Costly apparel converges with the manifestation of personal wealth in clothing.
Both Mesoamerican and Book of Mormon conquests establish tribute relationships rather than the Western-style of conquering cities or nations.
The Book of Mormon complaints against “plundering” converges with the Mesoamerican establishment of tribute relationships.

Anthropological
1 and 2 Nephi parallel established patterns of ethnogenesis
Pejorative stereotyping
Insider/outsider terminology (Nephite/Lamanite)
Emphasis on kin as organizational principle
Declarations of genealogy upon meeting a stranger
Consistent use of kin inheritance in both political and religious leadership roles
Amulek’s description of his household fits a Mesoamerican home compound, including multi-generations and collateral kin
“Getting the right things wrong” – when the text makes a “mistake,” it makes the “correct” mistake
Insider/outsider vocabulary
Mormon’s presentism.
Mormon’s description of wealth in Alma 1
Possible indications of the vigesimal system
400 year cycle in prophecy
Structure of various “counts”

Archaeological
General location of sites and times
Nephi’s compound in Helaman 7:10
Defensive fortifications, including dry moats
Roads

Political
Description of site visits in Lamanite cities (part of the story of Ammon) converge with descriptions of site visits from the ephigraphy.
The Book of Mormon description of a “King over kings” in Ammon’s story converges with the political organization described in the epigraphy.
Relationships of cities in a hegemony parallel the loose confederation of Zarahemla.
Fraternal succession of rulers
Alma 60:6-7 – multiple people on “thrones” correspondes to the use of the Mesoamerican “seat,” or “throne.”
The desire of the kingmen to allow Lamanite conquerors has parallels in Maya politics.

Warfare
The seasons of warfare match with the types of seasonality in Mesoamerica
Relationship of timing of war and famines.
Militia style – no standing army
Defensive armament is correctly described
Helmets
Slings
breastplates
shields
”Thick clothing” as armor
Wounds on the legs – i.e. no greaves
Descriptions of the deployment and types of weapons
Tactics
Rarity and surprise of night movements
Scouting a walled city, using ladders if not other way
hiding in foxholes
battle between champions
defeat of the king is the defeat of the army
battle by appointment
War on a tribute model rather than a conquest model.
Fortifications described that fit with developing Mesoamerican fortifications – appearing at approximately the same time period.
Lineage succession of the general

Productive convergences
Limhi’s expedition gets lost because they follow the wrong river.
Tactics depending upon topographic relationships
Jacob’s use of Isaiah
Ammon before Lamoni
Why Lamoni thought Ammon “more than a man”
Clan struggles as background
Anti-Nephi-Lehies
Mesoamerican caches and the Book of Mormon burying of weapons
Captive sacrifice and the seating of kings

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3 comments on “Book of Mormon Convergences

  1. pedro says:

    This is Brant’s list and you can find it on MADB. He has posted it several times.

  2. BOMC says:

    It is reckless to claim external parallels before understanding the Internal and Spiritual geography models. Clark made this clear:

    “It has been my experience that most members of the Church, when confronted with a Book of Mormon geography, worry about the wrong things. Almost invariably the first question that arises is whether the geography fits the archaeology of the proposed area. This should be our second question, the first being whether the geography fits the facts of the Book of Mormon-a question we all can answer without being versed in American archaeology. Only after a given geography reconciles all of the significant geographic details given in the Book of Mormon does the question of archaeological and historical detail merit attention.” [A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies, John E. Clark, FARMS Review: Volume – 1, Issue – 1, Pages: 20-70, A review of “Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon” by F. Richard Hauck, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1989]

    Before one pontificates about external parallels, they must produce an Internal Model to demonstrate their understanding of the text. Gardner has failed to produce one.

    There is a lack of convergence within the text itself. For example:

    1. Where are the land prophecies? How were they fulfilled in Mesoamerica?

    2. Where is Cumorah? Are they justified in ignoring official church history (LATTER DAY SAINTS’ MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE, Volume I. No. 1. KIRTLAND, OHIO, OCTOBER, 1834, p. 12, 157-158)?

    3. Are they justified in ignoring Church canon (D&C 128:20)?

    4. Are they justified in ignoring the volume of church leader statements in favor of the one Cumorah in Palmyra?

    5. Are they justified in ignoring the lack of DNA evidence in Mesoamerica, and the support of it for the Great Lakes area?

    Until the internal text – geographical and prophetic – can be demonstrated how THEY converge, any external convergences are speculation. The Book of Mormon is a prophetic book.

  3. James says:

    Hello BOMC. Allow me to make some comments.

    1. Brant Gardner is pretty clear about the fact that geography is not his focus. He has studied it enough to be satisfied that Mesoamerica geographically fits, but he isn’t really an apologist for that geography. Instead, Gardner finds his niche in teasing Mesoamerican culture and details from the text of the Book of Mormon. As a trained Mesoamerican anthropologist he is able to study the text with tools that most of us don’t possess, and what he finds brilliantly supports the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

    2. You have abused Clark’s quote, and I think you know you have abused it. John Clark is not at all suggesting that we have to dig for a “spiritual geography”.

    3. The five points you raise are subject for debate, and I’m not about to discuss all of them at once here. Suffice to say, the concrete details provided by the Book of Mormon authors concerning distances between cities, rivers, armies and the broad details concerning the shape of the land take priority in constructing a BoM geography. Other clues such as prophecies are far less concrete and their interpretation is subject to disagreement. But when Mormon explains how long it took for a party to travel from A to B that is the most important type of data we can get from the text regarding geography and its interpretation is not easily disputed.

    James

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