Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

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mormonheretic
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by mormonheretic » 30 Sep 2017, 15:33

I have a post on lots of strange BoM geography theories. One of them is African, but it is Eritrea, up in North East Africa, and has been widely debunked by BYU. However, after learning about the Lemba tribe in southern Africa (Zimbabwe) which does seem to claim jewish origins, it makes me wonder if these are the "dark and loathsome" Lamanites. I don't know about a narrow neck of land, but maybe we should start brainstorming there! It makes DNA sense, elephants and horses are plentiful, probably grain, matches rough timeline of Lehi, etc.

https://mormonheretic.org/2008/01/25/bo ... geography/

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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by DancingCarrot » 01 Oct 2017, 07:18

Curt Sunshine wrote: When you read the BoM as history (whether or not it actually is) and analyze the issue in that light, there simply is no proof one way or another, for or against. We simply don't know enough about some critical elements.
A very good point. Too many variables lead to inconclusive results. I remember you saying a bit ago that you're not sure even Joseph Smith understood the BoM. Care to elaborate? It sounds like you're quite agnostic about the historical claims of the book.




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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by DoubtingTom » 01 Oct 2017, 08:25

gospeltangents wrote:
26 Sep 2017, 12:24
I just finished up an interview with Dr. Ugo Perego on DNA and the Book of Mormon. It was a really fun interview. I've always been concerned (and still am) that there isn't any evidence linking Native Americans to the Middle East.
Just curious - have you or Ugo ever considered the possibility that the BoM is not a historical book? I ask only because with my admittedly non scholarly understanding of things, that is the conclusion I have come to when I try and put all the evidence I'm aware of into a theory that makes the most sense.

I would be happy to be wrong, but so far I haven't been even remotely convinced that a historical explanation answers things as well as a non-historical theory.

That said, I still love the BoM (minus the parts I don't love haha). All this discussion is very interesting though! Thanks for engaging with scholars and then sharing with us. Keep it coming!

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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by Curt Sunshine » 01 Oct 2017, 09:35

DancingCarrot, when viewed from a historical text viewpoint, there are some fascinating aspects that make it reasonable to assume it isn't just fabricated from pure imagination. Most of the things about which many people obsessed and still obsess have been or can be explained in light of newer understanding, whatvthe book itself actually says, and/or the descriptions of the "translation" process. There still are serious issues that make believing it is not an actual historical record a reasonable conclusion, but that still leaves the possibility of it being midrash, simplified history, inspired fiction, or something else other than deceitful fiction.

Add the possibility of Joseph having what would be diagnosed now as some kind of visionary disability, and the possibilities increase.

As to Joseph's understanding of it, I get that simply by comparing what he said and taught about it (and what the membership came to believe it says) to what it actually says. There are lots of examples of common beliefs about it that just don't match the text itself. There also are things in it that easily explain some of the things that trouble people so much, like the obvious racism in it. Understanding what it actually says, and viewing it as possible history, erases that as an issue - completely.

Yes, there are racist elements in it, but viewing it as possible history and analyzing the text itself explains the racism extremely well and, frankly, makes it more believable as something representative of its setting. More importantly, analyzing it that way allows us to condemn its racism and not assume it was or continues to be okay or acceptable to God. The text itself actually denies that interpretation and condemns racism - and, in a way, actually shows the negative end result of racism. If Brigham Young and future leaders had studied it in this way, they might have been able to overcome their racist upbringing and not perpetuate the Priesthood ban (or end it much earlier). It is instructive that it took a historian to show Pres. McKay and Pres. Kimball that the ban actually was NOT historically defensible.

That, however, does not deal with DNA issues, except to add an expanded example of things we assume that might not be accurate, so:

/back to the focus of this thread
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by DancingCarrot » 01 Oct 2017, 11:02

Quite fascinating, Ray. I'll be mulling over the things you said for a while.

GT, I have never heard of the African/Ethiopian theory. That certainly would fit the descriptions in the book of darker skin. To be honest, I've only ever heard of BoM theories from the Americas.


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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by gospeltangents » 01 Oct 2017, 13:41

Of course I have considered the BoM is not historical. How can one who studies this NOT consider that possibility? I would like it to be historical, but I also clearly see that it might not be.

As for Ethiopia, there is a group there that believes they have the lost Ark of the Covenant. (They are converted Christians now.) I've never heard them be considered Lamanites, but it would be fascinating if that were the case. (Of course the BoM makes no mention about the lost Ark either.) See https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/k ... 179998820/
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by DoubtingTom » 01 Oct 2017, 17:03

gospeltangents wrote:
01 Oct 2017, 13:41
Of course I have considered the BoM is not historical. How can one who studies this NOT consider that possibility? I would like it to be historical, but I also clearly see that it might not be.

As for Ethiopia, there is a group there that believes they have the lost Ark of the Covenant. (They are converted Christians now.) I've never heard them be considered Lamanites, but it would be fascinating if that were the case. (Of course the BoM makes no mention about the lost Ark either.) See https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/k ... 179998820/
GT, I want to apologize. Looking back I think my question sounded condescending and that is not how I meant it at all. My knowledge of these areas pales in comparison to those who actually study it (and those who interview those who study).

What I was trying to convey is that while I truly enjoy these conversations about geography theories, DNA, etc., for me the evidence for a non-historical BoM overwhelms the arguments for historicity. And that is just the evidence as I see it and understand it.

But I truly apologize if my question came off as flippant or arrogant. I would truly be interested in your or Ugo's (or anyone's) perspective on historicity, especially if you weigh the evidence differently than I do.

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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by gospeltangents » 01 Oct 2017, 17:20

I wasn't offended at all. Your question was a lot nicer than most of the comments I got in the Mormon Hub and Mormon Historians Facebook groups!
I would truly be interested in your or Ugo's (or anyone's) perspective on historicity, especially if you weigh the evidence differently than I do.
I think my best answer is to refer to Alma 32. I hope that it is historical, but you'll never hear me bear testimony that "I KNOW the BoM is historical." I don't know, but I hope, and I enjoy batting around the different theories.

On a slightly different topic, I pressed Sandra Tanner on historicity of the Bible as well. I'm probably more theologically liberal than she is. I asked her about the 4 Isaiah theory. In brief, some scholars believe Isaiah has written by at least 4 different authors, and that when Nephi quotes Isaiah, some critics claim that what is quoted in Nephi was written after Nephi left Jerusalem. These critics view this as an anachronism.

Sandra surprised me when she said that in 1959, even after she didn't believe in Mormonism, she believed in the Book of Mormon. She no longer believes, and feels Joseph plagiarized the KJV Bible (which most LDS scholars don't really deny very much.) When I asked her about the 4 Isaiah theory, she said she felt it was written by a single author. I even said, "so would you agree with the BYU scholars on a single Isaiah?" She said yes. I can't wait to publish that with the headline "Sandra Tanner agrees with BYU!" :lol:
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by DancingCarrot » 01 Oct 2017, 17:41

Yes, that would seem to be an anachronism to me as well.

I'm unsure about HOW Isaiah could be written by one author. From what I know, the time periods of which the book narrates span nearly 200 years! Even with our increased, modern life spans we don't live that long :lol: I see no issues with Isaiah being written by multiple authors. I do see inconsistencies with Nephi quoting scripture that would not have been available to him, even if he or his family were well versed in the oral traditions of the day.
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Re: Ugo on DNA & Book of Mormon

Post by nibbler » 02 Oct 2017, 06:01

Please don't read any intent or an attack into this question. This question is genuine.
gospeltangents wrote:
01 Oct 2017, 13:41
I would like it to be historical ...
Why?

- - - - -

I haven't studied Deutero-Isaiah, Trito-Isaiah, Tetarto-Isaiah, or any number of Isaiahs but I wonder what drives the theory. I've only heard things in passing, and this is where I hope someone else can help me out. It seems like a big part of the multiple author theory is based on elements of the book of Isaiah that could only have been written much later based on what were current events at the time. How does that change if one were to believe that Isaiah was a future-peeping prophet? Not someone writing down events after the fact but someone writing down visions of future events.

Off subject, I know.
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