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JOHN L. SORENSON
John L. Sorenson, Mormon Apologist.
| Since perusing different apologetic BoM sites on the internet, and having various conversations with apologists defending the historicity of the BoM, I gradually realized that one Sorenson footnote, in particular, was a popular support for the idea that smelting may have existed prior to the generally accepted appr. 900 AD date. Sorenson's statement read, from An Ancient Setting for the Book of Mormon, p.284:
The possibility that smelted iron either has been or may yet be found is enhanced by a find at Teotihuacan. A pottery vessel dating to about AD 300, and apparently used for smelting, contained a "metallic-looking" mass. Analyzed chemically, it proved to contain copper and iron. Linee, the same Swedish archaeologist who made that find, accepted a piece of iron found in a tomb at Mitla, Oaxaca, as probably refined.
The two attached footnotes to this paragraph read:
Sigvald Linne, Mexican Highland Cultures, Ethnographical Museum of Sweden, Publication 7, ns (Stockholm, 1942), p. 132
Sigvald Linne, Zapotecan Antiquities, Ehthnographical Museum of Sweden, Publication 4, ns (Stockholm, 1938), p. 75
Since becoming interested in Mesoamerican history, I've read over a dozen books on the subject, as well as many famsi articles and other websites. While this certainly does not constitute expertise, it does give me a general level of background knowledge concerning basic scholarly claims made about the topic. Consistently, these texts do not support the idea of the early smelting the BoM would require. So I was intrigued by this oft-mentioned reference, particularly given the dates of these articles. Surely, if real evidence of smelting had been discovered in 1938 and 1942, some scholar, somewhere, would have been interested enough to follow up on it. Yet I could find nothing. I became convinced that it was necessary to go to the original source, to read Linne's statement in context. At least that would give me some additional clues and details to follow up.
However, I had some difficulties locating the articles. I assumed, perhaps erroneously, that they were articles in a scholarly periodical, and proceeded to attempt to find copies online, with no luck. So I began looking for books. I did locate a text on Amazon with a similar name, but the dates of the research - 1934-35 - misled me into concluding it was the wrong research. I did find an original text, for three hundred dollars, obviously out of my budget. So I felt stymied.
So I asked Brant Gardener, who at times participated on another board and with whom I'd had conversations, if he could provide more context for the statement. He informed me had had never read the article, either. Each time I found the reference on the internet, it was the same quotation, over and over, pulled directly from Sorenson. I began to suspect no one had read the original article.
Now, I do not mean to suggest it is necessary to find the original sources for each and every claim made (in BoM apologetics or any other field), but when a particularly unusual or controversial claim is made, or one that appears to outright contradict other statements by scholars in the field, I think it is a good idea to at least try to look at the original source. I certainly have turned to the JoD and HoC many times in doing just that.
This reference was offered again by a poster on another board, recently, and I expressed, again, concern that no one offering the reference had actually read the original article. Someone referred me to Amazon for both texts, and while I couldn't locate the Zapotecan source, I did go ahead and order the book I originally doubted was the correct source. I am delighted to state that I was wrong in that assumption, and it is, indeed, the correct text. Mine is a recently republished edition, 2003, but no changes have been made to the original, with the exception of a new introduction.
Of course I immediately turned to the page 132, but the only statement I could find that bore any similarity to Sorenson's claim was this listing for burial site 1.
Metal resembling substance, small, irregular shaped pieces. Analysis has shown them to contain copper and iron, but no zinc, tin or antimony.
I was not convinced this was the actual reference. For one thing, it's not a pottery vessel. It's not described as such and is not listed with the pottery vessels. It is smack in the middle of the list of small pieces of minerals, bones, teeth, shell. It was hard for me to see how "small irregular shaped pieces" could be Sorenson's pottery vessel, "apparently used for smelting". I decided before drawing any conclusions that I would have to read the entire section on this particular Teotihuacan dig. There is no doubt this is the correct dig, but I thought perhaps the numbering of the pages had changed with republication. So I proceeded to read the entire section, of about 110 pages. Some portions I read twice, to make sure I hadn't overlooked something the first time.
Now I feel comfortable making this assertion. This statement of Linne's, on page 132, is, indeed, Sorenson's source:
Metal resembling substance, small, irregular shaped pieces. Analysis has shown them to contain copper and iron, but no zinc, tin or antimony.
I truly do not understand how Sorenson understood this to be a pottery vessel apparently used for smelting.
One thing should be pointed out for those new to the subject - the controversial point, in regards to BoM apologetics, is not that metals existed in the BoM time periods. Yes, metal existed and the Mesoamericans worked with those metals. But they worked with the natural outgrowths of these metals - they did not have the technology to create the controlled, intense heat needed for smelting. They fashioned items such as mirrors used in religious ceremonies. The linguistic evidence for the existence of METALS is irrelevant. It is the process of smelting that is contested. Hence, the importance of the Linne reference.
What makes it even more unlikely that Sorenson used Linne's reference correctly is this statement Linne made just a few pages later, p 147.
Of peculiar character are a rounded object, fig.236, and fragments of a circular plate, both from Burial 1. The latter, which has the appearance of rusty iron, may have been a mirror. Analysis has shown both of them to contain a large proportion of sulphur and iron, and they are undoubtedly iron pyrite (FeS2). There can be no doubt that certain pre-Spanish objects described as being of iron are nothing but pyrite. Weathering has made them look rusty.
Note: upon request, I provided more context.
This was a dig of the Tlamimilolpa House Ruin in Teotihuacan. At the beginning of the section, Linne spends some time describing the actual site and how they proceeded. Then he lists the objects excavated therein. 13 graves were discovered below the floors of different rooms, and the object in question was discovered in Burial site 1, the earliest of said graves. He first lists approximately sixteen different types of pottery vessels, bowls, dishes, jars, lids, miniature vessels. He then lists beads and figurine fragments. Next he lists obsidian knives and tools. Then he moves into listing the mineral type objects. This is the area of the list wherein this item occurs. To provide more context, I will list the objects that preceded and followed the items in question. Again, this is page 132, just like his notation lists. It is the only possible connection - anything else would be an even weaker connection.
1 object of pyrite, rounded and highly polished, fig. 236. Analysis reveals a high percentage of iron and sulphur: specific gravity 4.88
He then proceeds to list teeth and shells.
1 piece of pyrite, of rectangular shape and with one side slightly convex and polished; 1.3 x 0.9x 0.1 cm. Was no doubt originally set in the eye of a mask of the typeshown in pls. 3-5.
Metallic-resembling substance, small, irregular shaped pieces. Analysis has shown them to contain copper and iron, but no zinc, tin, or antimony.
2 bone implements, short and tapering, though not sharp-pointed. Have possibly been used for flaking off knives from obsidian blocks. Figs. 248, 254.
1 thin, flat bone object with a blunt point and a hole pierced for a suspension cord or the like, fig. 249
After listing all the objects, he writes some notes and draws some conclusions. Under the heading "Tools and ornaments of obsidian, stone, and mica", he made the statement I already quoted, but here is the entire paragraph, from p 146.
Of peculiar character are a rounded object, fig. 236, and fragments of a circular plate, both from Burial 1. The latter, which has the appearance of rusty iron, may have been a mirror. Analysis has shown both of them to contain a large proportion of sulphur and iron, and they are undoubtedly iron pyrite. There can be no doubt that certain pre-Spanish objects described as being of iron are nothing but pyrite. Weathering has made them look rusty. The diameter of the flat disc is 6 cm, which roughly corresponds to the average size of the Mexican pyrite mirrors included in Nordenskiold's study of convex and concave mirrors in America. Unfortunately the surface is so badly weathered that it is impossible to determine the way in which it is ground. Nordenskiold has, however, found that the majority of pre-Spanish mirrors - all of them from Mexico, Ecuador, and the Peruvian coast - are convex and consist of pyrite. In Musee de l'Homme, Paris, there is one which forms part of Charnay's collection and is stated to have come from Teotihuacan. Nordenskiold further adduces a Mexican picture-writing in which among other things is seen a man using a mirror. The picture-writing in question is said to originate from Cholula. Mirrors were naturally in great demand as an article of trade and even formed part of the barter goods with which the great raft that Bartolome Ruiz in 1526 encountered off the coast of Ecuador was loaded.
The metallic looking substance, itself, was not significant enough to warrant any kind of mention in the comments.
Under the pottery section, this is listed:
6 bowls with flat bottom, curving sides and exceedingly rudimentary feet, fig. 203. They are black, polished, and with a surface of almost metallic luster. One of them is ornamented with incised curved lines, fig. 217
That's the only other thing I could find that mentions anything about metallic looking, and this is clearly not actual metal. But it is a bowl!!!
Dan Peterson posted and said that he brought this up to a friend last night who asked Dr. Sorenson about it. Dr. Sorenson admitted that the footnote lacked certain clarifications, and he stated something about receiving more information privately from an excavator of the site (apparently not Linne). Dan chalks it up to an oversight.
My problem with this "oversight" is that as recently as 1995, Sorenson repeated the exact same information without bothering to add any clarification.
Buyer, beware, as usual.
| Has anyone posted yet on "An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Coe"?
There is too much BS to deal with. How about this one?
"Domesticated barley was discovered in archaeological sites in Arizona and midwestern states twenty-five years ago, and it could well have grown in Mexico too."
Is Dr. Sorenson serious? This 2009 study shows that the "little barley", Hordeum pusillum (not Old World barley) was being used in Eastern North America 3,800 years ago.
That was more than 1,000 years before Lehi, by a people who had nothing to do with the Book of Mormon. Hordeum pusillum is indigenous to the United States, it is not found in Southern Mexico or Guatemala.
Descendants of ice-age people in North America independently domesticated crops and then Lehi's people (from Adam and Eve) came along and used one of these plant species in places that nobody can find now.
What is wrong with Mormon scholars? Do they really expect us to believe that?
Hordeum pusillum is well documented as a crop plant in eastern North America. But Dr. Sorenson advocates Mesoamerica for the Book of Mormon, a location where "little barley" does not grow.
He began talking about H. pusillum as "evidence" for the Book of Mormon in 1985, after he read that it was found in a Hohokam site in Arizona. He proposed that the ancient Hohokam people had migrated there from Mesoamerica. Now he has changed the direction because it originated north of Mexico. He suggests that the crop might have been used in the BofM lands of Mesoamerica.
In 1985 he said "the Book of Mormon refers to barley in relation to Nephite money standards as though it was in common use" but now he tries to persuade us that H. pusillum was in common use in a region where there is no evidence for it.
| Not Limited, But Rabbit Hole Geography - John L. Sorenson's Upcoming Book Titled "Mormon's Codex" |
Monday, Nov 19, 2012, at 08:29 AM
Original Author(s): Jesus Smith
Topic: JOHN L. SORENSON -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Speaking about his soon-to-be-published book, "Mormon's Codex", John L. Sorenson says:
"Beginning as early as 1955 I undertook to synthesize what I was learning about ancient Mesoamerica (that is, southern Mexico and northern Central America) into a form intended to answer the question, how did the Book of Mormon account relate to the civilization that once occupied that area?"
In an article about John's "Mormon Codex", the Deseret News says:
"Since the publication of his 1985 book, "An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon," he has been regarded as arguably the leading exponent for the theory that the book's narrative took place within a limited geographic setting. This contrasts with the traditional understanding of many LDS Church members over the years that the events described in the book transpired throughout North and South America."
I obviously haven't read Sorenson latest attempts. But scholarship of BoM Geography...? OMG. These folks are really down deep in the rabbit hole.
If the book of mormon were true, you couldn't help but stumble into a jaredite-boat load of archaeological evidence. Why?
1) the rapid, cataclysmic destruction of more than a dozen cities as depicted in 3 Nephi 8-10 would leave marked and dramatic evidence.
2) the utopian, rich, industrious, populous, peaceful, non-racist society described in 4 Nephi would have left archeological evidence about as great as the Greek civilization. Cause there's never been a society that "good" for that long and that industrious in all of history.
There is no face-of-land changing, uber destruction of a dozen cities in three days anywhere. Not even close.
Instead of a populous christian society, the major mesoamerican populations of that era (~150AD) practiced a not-so christian human and infant sacrifice at the temple (Teotihuacan) that is host to the god that many Mops represent as Christ (Quetzalcoatl). (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_o...).
Instead of worshiping Christ and his sky daddy, the Teotihuacan civilization worshiped a plurality of gods
If AmeriChrist wiped out all the wicked (3 Nephi 8 and 9) then how could there be human sacrifice and idolatry in Mesoamerica at the same time the nephites who spread over the face of the whole land (Mesoamerica) were the bestest christians ever known?
And (again my broken record) we would expect that archaeology evidence from the 35-220AD era (according to 4 Nephi):
Sorenson can't believe he explains this in his new book...
- huge population "multiplied" across the land (v. 10, 23)
- great industry and building (v. 7-8, 26)
- complete peace (v. 2, 4, 13, 15, 20)
- little or no poverty (v. 4, 23)
- no slavery (v. 3)
- no racism; no segregation (v. 17)
- all were Christian; no idolatry (v. 2 and 3 Ne 8-9, 4 Ne:2)
Even if the geography of more than a dozen cities which stretched from sea to shining sea (Helaman 3:8) were somehow limited to a small region, it would be found given the claims of a utopian society rising out of the ashes of Destructo-Jesus' fiery burning and drowning of so many people. Think about the vikings who visited a remote (extremely limited geography) location of icy Canada and left lab-fulls of trace evidence. Smith's Nephite population claimed to spread righteously, industriously, peacefully and prosperously from sea to sea over the face of the whole land leaves nothing except a bitter taste in our mouths.
According to the Desnews: "Sorenson said that in his forthcoming book, he identifies 420 "correspondences" between the Book of Mormon and what scholars understand regarding Mesoamerican civilizations."
420. That explains Sorenson's reasoning right there.
| I sent a copy of the abstract of Sorenson's new book (Link: http://www.fairlds.org/fair-conferenc...) to the archeologist I have been talking too, she responded in part...
I read the link. I have to admit, I've never heard of John Sorenson. My guess is that he has mostly published popular stuff in BOMS or similar places. I see he worked for a few months on for the NWAF... in 1953.
It looks like it will be a very long book, one that will be hard going to get through. Some of his "correspondences" make sense in a general way. But others don't. One simply can't get around the fact that there were no elephants in Mesoamerica or metallurgy (at least in the part of it that he talks about) until long after Book of Mormon times. It might be an interesting book to write a review about.
Read the extended Abstract. I'm no archaeologist, but I am a scientist and I don't anticipate a favorable review (or indeed any review at all) of the book in the American Journal of Archaeology, or by any other credible professional archaeological journal or society for that matter. I expect it to be pretty much ignored as was the work of Hugh Nibley in this area.
Sorenson states unequivocally in the Abstract that pre-Columbian art in Mesoamerica depicts distinctly Semitic individuals. The fact that he makes this claim in the face of DNA evidence that conclusively precludes "distinctly Semitic" individuals in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica gives some idea of the overall level of professionalism and credibility one might expect from the book.
In fact, from the Abstract, it looks as if Sorenson is going for broke and claiming that pre-Columbian Mesoamerican societies we are familiar with, and from which we do have artifacts, were indeed those described in the Book of Mormon.
I guess the fact that hundreds (if not thousands) of mainstream scientists, from any number of disciplines, using the best available equipment and methods over the last 100 years or so, have developed an evidence-based history of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica that precludes any transoceanic migration as described in the Book of Mormon just does not register with Sorenson.
I might get a copy of the book just to see how Sorenson deals with the conventional science in this area (if he attempts to do so at all).
It would also be interesting to see how this apologetic stacks up against similar earlier (and now discredited) works by Hugh Nibley. From the abstract, my guess would be that it is just more of the same.
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