“Plural Marriage — Part 1” and a Disappointment

“Plural Marriage — Part 1” and a Disappointment July 17, 2022


We spent a fair portion of Saturday in and about Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. The view of Waterton Village here was taken from the Prince of Wales Hotel.

(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


A new entry in our series of short video “reels” went up on Saturday evening, Utah time, on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:


Witnesses of the Book of Mormon — Insights Episode 13: Plural Marriage – Part 1

What do we know about the practice of plural marriage in the early Church? Who was Fanny Alger?

This is the thirteenth in a series compiled from from the many interviews conducted during the course of the Witnesses film project. This series of mini-films is being released each Saturday at 7pm MDT. These additional resources are hosted by Camrey Bagley Fox, who played Emma Smith in Witnesses, as she introduces and visits with a variety of experts. These individuals answer questions or address accusations against the witnesses, also helping viewers understand the context of the times in which the witnesses lived. For more information, go to https://witnessesofthebookofmormon.org/ or watch the documentary movie Undaunted.

Short clips from this episode are also available on TikTok and Instagram.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/theinterpreterfoundation and our other social media channels on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and TikTok.




I notice that a few folks on the Peterson Obsession Board have taken aim at the fireside that I presented in Calgary on Thursday night.  A couple of them watched it online via Zoom because . . .  well, because, to a remarkably weird degree, their lives seem to revolve around Me.  One of them, in particular, has taken aim at my relatively brief allusion to the work of Brian Stubbs, a respected authority on the lexicography of the Uto-Aztecan language family in the New World.  You may or may not recall Brother Stubbs’s contention that the vocabulary of Uto-Aztecan appears to have been significantly influenced in ancient times by contact with Hebrew, Aramaic, and Egyptian.  Even if accepted, this proposition would not, as such, be direct evidence for the Book of Mormon.  But there’s no question that — again, if accepted — it would greatly enhance the Book of Mormon’s credibility.


I first called attention to Brian Stubbs’s interesting claim in an article in the Deseret News back in 2017, in which I also provided links to two favorable reviews of his work.  They were written by, yes, fellow Latter-day Saint scholars — but by Latter-day Saint scholars who also happen to be superbly trained and highly reputable academic specialists on Amerindian languages:


“Near Eastern languages in ancient America?”


Please see, specifically,

“Exploring Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan Languages,” by John S. Robertson

“Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan,” by Dirk Elzinga


Purporting to refute what I said on Thursday night, this fellow cites a review that, he claims, has proven Brian Stubbs wrong.  No surprise, though, and true to form, he ignores the two favorable reviews mentioned above and he also ignores the fact that the supposedly devastating and irrefutable review to which he points has, itself, been forcefully challenged:


“An American Indian Language Family with Middle Eastern Loanwords: Responding to A Recent Critique,” by John S. Robertson

Abstract: In 2015 Brian Stubbs published a landmark book, demonstrating that Uto-Aztecan, an American Indian language family, contains a vast number of Northwest Semitic and Egyptian loanwords spoken in the first millennium bc. Unlike other similar claims — absurd, eccentric, and without substance — Stubbs’s book is a serious, linguistically based study that deserves serious consideration. In the scholarly world, any claim of Old World influence in the New World languages is met with critical, often hostile skepticism. This essay is written in response to one such criticism.


People cannot trust Latter-day Saint apologists, he says, because they only read one-sidedly and because they present information in a skewed and fatally-flawed manner that (in my phrasing, not his) misrepresents the state of the discussion on the issues about which they write and speak, failing to mention contrary views and flat-out refutations.  My brief mention of the work of Brian Stubbs, he suggests, is an example of such misbehavior and, by implication, I am a parade exemplar of such disreputable antics.  (I honestly don’t think that he’s trying to prank his friends on the Obsession Board.  I’m reasonably certain that he’s serious.)


I’m happy for the opportunity to mention the work of Brian Stubbs yet again.  I regard it is potentially very important, not only for Latter-day Saints but for anybody who is interested in the history of Pre-Columbian America.  As with all scholarship of any actual interest, there will be discussion and even controversy.  That’s to be welcomed.  It’s how our understanding advances.  But I’m talking, of course, about serious discussion.  I welcome serious discussion.  Unserious discussion, however, advances nothing of any value.




And here are a couple of reflective pieces about the images that have begun to be delivered by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope.  Both of them are by people with whom I’ve been blessed to have some degree of personal contact:


“Latest space images confirm Enlightenment scholar’s theory about galaxies, Harvard prof says”


“Vatican astronomer praises beauty and potential of Webb space photos: Commenting on the newest pictures of the James Webb Space Telescope, Brother Guy Consolmagno also reflected on the rich history of Catholic scientists who have studied the stars.”


Guy Consolmagno S.J., the official Vatican astronomer, participated in an Interpreter Foundation conference some years ago, at which he delivered thoughtful and powerful remarks that are still available on the Interpreter Foundation website and that I commend to your attention:


“Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ – Keynote Address: Astronomy, God, and the Search for Elegance”




We need to close, though, with some appalling depravities committed in the name of religion.  They come from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File©, and they will — this is fair warning — make your skin crawl:


“Helping a Fiji Village Feed Its Families: Partnership between two charitable agencies is creating food security”


Posted from somewhere between Cardston, Alberta, and Waterton Lakes National Park



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