Lehi and his party encounter the Arabian Sea


On the Arabia Sea coast
A scene along the Yemeni coast of the Arabian Sea     (Wikimedia Commons.)


Further notes from John W . Welch, et al., eds., Knowing Why: 137 Evidences That the Book of Mormon Is True (American Fork: Covenant Communications, 2017), 51-54:


“Why Would Nephi Call the Ocean ‘Irreantum’?” (51-52)

This brief essay lays out two different possible etymologies — one Semitic and one Egyptian — for the Book of Mormon term Irreantum, the first meaning something like “fully abundant waters” and the second meaning approximately “great watercourse of all.”  


“Did Ancient People Sail the Seas?” (53-54)

Many modern folks imagine that people in antiquity didn’t sail long distances, but they clearly did.  And there is hard biological evidence of oceanic contacts between the Old and New World.  This short article provides some of the details and references.




This article appeared the other day and is generating a bit of interest in certain circles:


“How a Mormon lawyer transformed archaeology in Mexico—and ended up losing his faith”


Several people have written to me, asking for my reaction.  In a sense, of course, I already replied to it several years ago:


Ein Heldenleben? On Thomas Stuart Ferguson as an Elias for Cultural Mormons” (written with Matthew Roper; FARMS Review 16/1 [2004]: 175–219)


“On the New World Archaeological Foundation” (FARMS Review 16/1 [2004]: 221–33)


Also essential is John L. Sorenson’s “Addendum,” which is appended following John Gee’s “A Tragedy of Errors” (Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 4/1 [1992]: 93–119, specifically pages 117-119).


Regarding the article’s comments on the Book of Abraham, I recommend John Gee’s recent book on the subject:


“Introducing ‘An Introduction to the Book of Abraham'”


“John Gee’s ‘Introduction to the Book of Abraham’: A Lifetime of Book of Abraham Scholarship Distilled into a Valuable Book for a Broad Audience”


“Book Review: An Introduction to the Book of Abraham”


My general reaction to the sad story of Thomas Stuart Ferguson is that his expectations were naïve, amateurish, and simplistic, and that, given such expectations, he was virtually bound to be disappointed.  But it’s worth pointing out that seriously-trained Latter-day Saint Mesoamericanists such as M. Wells Jakeman, Bruce Warren, and Ross Christensen didn’t lose their faith.  Nor have living academic specialists such as John Sorenson, John Clark, Mark Wright, and Kerry Hull.  (It’s also perhaps worth pointing out that, according to his family, he returned to faith during the months before his sudden and unexpected death, bearing testimony to them when he was under no pressure or obligation to do so.  I can’t say whether that family claim is true or not, but I think that it should be read into the public record.)




Unsought advice:


“If I had the Mormon prophet’s ear”


Not as hostile or quite as negative, frankly, as I expected it to be.


What do you think of his suggestions?




Something a bit more positive, maybe:


“7 Famous People Who Defended Mormonism”




Something very much more positive:

Don’t miss the Interpreter Radio Show on Sunday night, between 7 PM and 8 PM, Utah time.  You can listen to it on K-Talk (1640 AM) or, via the K-Talk website, on computer.




Oy veh.  Anti-religious hostility like this isn’t going to help Democrats in Utah:


“Democrat Kathie Allen takes swipe at new senator’s religion: She questions how new state Sen. Brian Zehnder, a doctor like her, ‘reconciles evangelism with science.’ He turns the other cheek.”


Not that I hope for Democrat success!  I’m perfectly happy that Kathie Allen hasn’t managed to win an election yet.  May her record continue, unblemished by victory.



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