long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hinterlands-Mesoamerica or North America?

Some time ago I posted a brief peer review of Mark Alan Wright's article, published in the Interpreter and based on a presentation he made at the 2013 FairMormon conference, titled "Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography." As I said then, I think Wright's insight about a "hinterlands" is useful on many levels.

It's just backward.

I wrote a fully documented response titled "Mesoamerica as Hinterland" and submitted it to the Interpreter. No surprise: they refused to publish it because they don't tolerate any setting other than Mesoamerica.

Unlike me, they don't trust their readers to make up their own minds.

Actually, I don't know how many people read the Interpreter. It claims to be a "peer-reviewed educational journal," but as I've demonstrated repeatedly in this blog, their articles about the Book of Mormon contain errors that one would think an actual peer reviewer would notice. (The same was true of FARMS and now the Maxwell Institute, one reason among many why FARMS book reviews were described as "tabloid scholarship.") It seems their idea of peer review is more literal than one imagines; i.e., they are reviewed (if at all) by peers in the sense of a fellow member of the nobility, like in Britain. In this case, the nobility consists of Mesoamericanists. It's not so much peer review as Groupthink.

Bottom line, if you want a different point of view about Book of Mormon geography, don't read the Interpreter. You know what their "peer-reviewed" articles will say before you read them.

It's unfortunate, because the people behind the Interpreter are nice people and good scholars in their fields. The Interpreter has published some good material on other topics. Their editorial board and authors are just blind to the major problems with the Mesoamerican theory. The blindness shows up in the way they respond to criticism as well as the way they refuse to publish alternative viewpoints. I think they're defensive because they know the Mesoamerican setting doesn't work on any level.

I understand they are going to publish a review of the Zarahemla book. Matt Roper told me he was going to review it, too. I've been waiting for such feedback for six months, as I'll explain if/when Roper's review appears. I think everyone will find this quite interesting.

The history of Mormon apologetics deserves a paper, if not a book. (Actually, it's a big section of my book, Moroni's History, which will be released in August.) The wikipedia page is pretty good on the history of FARMS. There's also a good analysis here: http://www.templestudy.com/2012/06/25/rise-fall-farms/

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