Philip Jenkins, a scholar I admire, has been critiquing Book of Mormon historicity on his blog. See:
Needless to say, I believe he both misses the point(s), and is seriously mistaken and uninformed on a number of issues. (My suspicion is that his LDS informants were of the liberal persuasion.) I may take up responding to his specific claims at some point. We’ll see.
At one point he says:
The relationship of the official church to the more literal-minded apologists is long and controversial. You can get a sense of the whole saga by tracing the history of theFoundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), which over the past decade has been subsumed into the highly respectable Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University.
Note that Jenkins believes that the “subsuming” of FARMS into the “highly respectable Maxwell Institute” is a good thing precisely because the new Maxwell Institute is no longer hampered by “literal-minded apologists.” In other words, Jenkins clearly see the new Maxwell Institute as rejecting the (for Jenkins) untenable historicity of the Book of Mormon. This is what makes it “highly respectable.” In other words, a highly intelligent, though casual observer of things Mormon thinks it obvious that the new direction of the Maxwell Institute represents a marginalization of the question of Book of Mormon historicity by BYU and the official Church. So my question is: Is this the impression that BYU and the Church want to give? It is clearly what most casual observers will make of it.
I know the folks at the Maxwell Institute don’t pay any attention to me, but I also wonder if they agree with Jenkin’s assessment of both untenable nature of BOM historicity, and of his interpretation of what’s happened at the Maxwell Institute?