In the interest of clarity, charity and understanding, we'll take a moment to look at the origins of M2C.
Because Book of Mormon Central (BMC) has raised millions of dollars to repackage and promote M2C and SITH, BMC has done a good job papering over its own intellectual ancestry.
But when we look at that ancestry, we understand it's shallow origins and why BMC continues to promote M2C and SITH as the only acceptable beliefs about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon.
BMC is actually a subsidiary of BMAF (Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc.). Glance through the articles on the BMAF website and you'll discover all you need to know about BMC's obsession with M2C and SITH.
Here, for example, is an undated article that purports to explain "The Origin of the Mesoamerican Model."
It begins with an illustration adapted from an RT Barrett painting of Joseph Smith examining the plates (which is historically accurate). This painting was published by BYU as recently as 2005.
|Joseph Smith examining the plates (JS-H 1:62)|
|Joseph Smith examining John Lloyd Stephens (BMAF/BMC)|
This revised illustration epitomizes the claims of both (i) anti-Mormon critics and (ii) the M2C and SITH scholars. They all claim that Joseph learned about the Book of Mormon by reading secular sources including the Stephens books.
It's easy to see why critics promote these ideas.
It's less easy to see why LDS scholars promote these ideas, except that framing Joseph as an ignorant speculator who didn't know much about the Book of Mormon setting and who got the words from a stone in a hat puts them, the credentialed scholars, in a superior position. It entitles these M2C and SITH scholars to reject what Joseph and Oliver actually said in favor of their own theories.
For those of us who still believe what Oliver and Joseph taught about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon, this depiction of Joseph learning about the Book of Mormon by reading the Stephens books is absurd.
Not only absurd, but destructive.
I discussed this article several years ago, here:
Soon we'll take another look at this article to see why M2C persists at Book of Mormon Central.