Monday, September 30, 2013
I've been reading John Sorenson's Mormon's Codex, whose electronic version happily now includes the maps, added in an update a few days ago. It's a monumental work with many treasures for students of the Book of Mormon. I was disappointed, however, when I read in an LDS forum that Dr. Sorenson had not taken Brant Gardner's work into account, especially his new analysis on directions in Mesoamerica. Gardner's work, including his presentation at a recent FAIRLDS Conference and his publication, "From the East to the West" at MormonInterpreter, helps us understand some of the complexities in Mesoamerican directions and understand why the Book of Mormon may require something other than our standard cardinal directions. Gardner gives us new perspectives showing that the Book of Mormon's use of directions may even be comfortably at home in ancient Mesoamerica. I don't think Sorenson would have had to change very much in his approach, but there was an opportunity to further strengthen some of the correspondences with Mesoamerica.
However, Dr. Sorenson understandably has just one lifetime to work with, and that has resulted in a need to miss some areas in order to cover the expanse that he has brought together for his work.
One of the areas where he has fruitfully considered the work of other LDS scholars involves ancient languages in Mesoamerica. I was pleased to see him discuss the work of Brian Stubbs, whose research into the Uto-Aztecan (UA) language group has revealed a very high level of apparent influence from Hebrew or other Semitic languages. One example of Stubbs' work is in a publication for the Maxwell Institute. Here is an except from Sorenson's book (see original for the table and the references):