Jenkins 18: U-Kix/Akish

Jenkins 18: U-Kix/Akish July 8, 2015

I’ve been otherwise occupied over the holiday weekend, and haven’t kept up on the blog.  This was sent to me by prof. Jenkins a few days ago, responding to the Akish argument.  


 I am responding to your post at  

I do note the qualifying introductory note, but let me pursue the question as if you were still pressing the original claim.

Let me begin very seriously by saying how pleased I am that we are finally dealing with specific claims and issues! What a relief.

Having said that, there is so much wrong with this particular claim I don’t know where to begin. Your original question to me was as follows:

If we had a Mesoamerican inscription which mentioned a Book of Mormon king, with a date and historical context that matched the date and context for the Book of Mormon, would that be “objective evidence” in favor of the historicity of the Book of Mormon?

I duly agreed that if you found such a thing, according to those specifications, then certainly, that would be truly convincing, and would definitely qualify as objective evidence.

This instance, though, comes nowhere near meeting the criteria.

1. When you asked the question, I was genuinely intrigued about what you were going to produce. Did you indeed have a reference to a fourth century AD inscription (say) referring to a specific king mentioned in the Book of Mormon at that very time? I was doubly curious about your reference to “date and historical context.” Did you really have a case where an inscription referred not only to King X son of Y, but situated him in a particular city or region likewise linked to him in the Book of Mormon. If so, wow. I would at this moment be penning my letters of apology to you, and also to Joseph Smith.

So is there such an inscription?

2.Briefly, the answer is no, not even close.

You are citing a seventh century AD text for an alleged person living 1,500 years previously. That gets into fundamental issues of the horizon of memory, a topic well studied by historians and anthropologists. As it stands, it is rather like someone in 1976 claiming to speak of events that happened at the time of the Fall of the Roman Empire in 476, with no intervening steps. Might it be authentic? Sure, in theory, provided you can account for how the information was passed on. Do we have a plausible chain of evidence?

The earliest inscriptions associated with the Maya are from the third century BC. (If you care, that’s San Bartolo). Let’s assume that the written tradition had been evolving earlier, say two or three centuries, but that still puts us a long, long way from 1,000 BC. So how did the traditions of names get from 1,000 BC to (say) 400 BC? Via oral traditions of genealogies, epic poems, king lists… etc?

Most scholars would be highly suspicious of genealogies from that era (European, Asian, or Meso-American) going back a century or two, never mind five (and certainly not fifteen).

To see what I mean, look at the genealogies and regnal lists we find in Anglo-Saxon England from this time. They are great on the man’s parents, plausible on his grandparents, and they then start padding the descent line with mythological figures borrowed variously from the Bible and Germanic mythology, including gods and demons, and names added entirely for euphony. This would not matter if the individuals they add lived at roughly the time specified, but it absolutely doesn’t. That’s one example from many, but you can illustrate the same point from any other society you care to choose.

You can never trust royal or aristocratic genealogies from this era back that far in the past, or indeed more than a century or two. Nor king lists. If you can find a Maya scholar who suggests that you can in that context, bring that rash soul on.

2. But for the sake of argument, assume that you could trust the genealogies. What do you have here? You say that this is “a close homophonic match.” (I do acknowledge that you are revising this claim). Paraphrased, that means “It sounds rather like.” As you rightly say, “the well known phenomena of the change of pronunciation of proper names through time and between cultures.” So we should rather say, “sounds a bit like.”

If you take all the miscellaneous names in Maya inscriptions, and all the characters in the Book of Mormon, it would be astounding if there were not multiple “sound alike” matches. Especially when you supply the wiggle room offered by the changes of pronunciation over a mere 1,500 years.

Moreover, as both lists are overwhelmingly concerned with the same general class of society (kings, aristocrats, high priests), then of course the alleged sound-alike person is going to be fulfilling one of those elite offices.

Nor does this sound-alike come equipped with any corroborative additional detail, eg “King of City X” or “the one who won the great battle of Y.” Nor is there “Akish son of Kimnor,” which would be very suggestive, or “Akish and his friend Lord Omer.” In other words, there is precisely none of the Book of Mormon context that you implied in your question.

3. Ah, I see you still hold to that idea of the Maya civilization having sprung from the Olmecs. Almost certainly not.

4. You write,

It would seem, then, that the Maya kings of Palenque had a vague recollection of their legendary ancestor from Olmec times, whose name and function broadly parallels the story of Akish in the Book of Mormon.  Given the sparse nature of the Mesoamerican data, and the uncertainties of the pronunciation of Maya glyphs 1500 years ago, the Akish/U-Kix connection is as good as we can expect to find.  It represents the existence in a Mesoamerican inscription of a Book of Mormon king with broad parallels in name, date, title and function

So a sound-alike from a genealogy claiming to be reliable over 1,500 years is “as good as we can expect to find.” Absolutely not, anything vaguely contemporary and more plausible in terms of supplying some specific information would be vastly better.

Even if it was U-kix/Akish, it still would carry zero weight. And now, it appears, it doesn’t even do that.

So I still await some plausible candidates for objective evidence.

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