Myth-History and Real History

Over the past few weeks, I have been posting about the Book of Mormon, and you can check out those various items as you wish. Not surprisingly, my posts called forth a sizable number of comments and reactions, many quite intense, and a small number abusive and obscene. Here, though, I would like to react [Read More...]

What Scholars Do

I have been discussing the historical credentials of the Book of Mormon, in order to illustrate the differences between mainstream and fringe scholarship. Briefly, the history that the book supplies of the pre-Columbian Americas is wholly fictitious, and should never be treated as literal historical truth. We are free to discuss its merits as spiritual [Read More...]

Buddhists, Christians, and Godly Prosperity

The Buddhist magazine Tricycle sometimes offers really fine writing, and the past Spring issue included an outstanding example that raises all sorts of questions and parallels for historians of Christianity. The piece in question was “The Buddha’s Footprint,” by Johan Elverskog of SMU (subscription needed for full access). It’s a substantial article, and not surprisingly [Read More...]

Ordinary Faith and Extraordinary History

As a historical source on the ancient Americas, the Book of Mormon is worthless. That observation, though, has not the slightest impact on the existence or growth of the LDS church, nor should it. Just why that is the case tells us much about the relationship between the claims of any faith and the reasons [Read More...]

Wandering Over the Plains of the Nephites

Mound_Builder_City

In my last post, on the Book of Mormon, I asked a question: Does the Book contain a statement or idea about the New World that Joseph Smith could not have known at the time, but which has subsequently been validated by archaeological or historical research? I mention this point because the apologist literature includes [Read More...]

Mormons and New World History

Recently, I have been posting on fringe and mainstream ideas in scholarship, and have identified a number of working principles. Today I am going to illustrate these themes through one particular religious text, namely the Book of Mormon. This story also has lessons for mainstream Christians, who to varying degrees also have to face the [Read More...]

The Monte Verde Principle

I have been discussing fringe or marginal theories that run contrary to the scholarly consensus in a given field, and why we need to be very careful about rejecting that mainstream opinion. Just because an idea seems bold or iconoclastic does not make it right. You may at this point be thinking that I am [Read More...]

Outliers and Iconoclasts

I have been writing about mainstream and fringe scholarship, and defending the sometimes unpopular idea of mainstream orthodoxy, or the scholarly consensus. Blogging on any religious topic invites wacky comments and responses. As one example of many, I had a commenter not long ago who asserted that most of what Christians believed about their origins [Read More...]

I Want to Believe

Last year, Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson published an impressively dreadful book called The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’s Marriage to Mary the Magdalene. The Lost Gospel made much of an ancient novel called Joseph and Aseneth, claiming (on no vaguely convincing grounds) that the characters in it were coded or [Read More...]

The Seekers and the Sought

I have been writing about the English Non-Juror movement. About 1710, these dissident High Church figures were looking around for a major institution in which to ground themselves, and they tried to affiliate with the Orthodox Churches of the East. That effort came to nothing, but it did have an ironic aftermath. In the early [Read More...]


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