Cumberland Academy

Dr. John Sorenson wrote of the Book of Mormon “Not even the greatest savant of the 19th century could have produced a volume so rich in Mesoamericana. Even in the 21st century, the best informed scholar could not produce such a book”

The Book of Mormon, published in 1829, describes two advanced, literate ancient American civilizations. According to the Book of Mormon, the Jaredites arrived in around 2500 BC. Jaredite culture endured until 580 BC although its cultural influence persisted for centuries afterward. Another group arrived in 587 BC and soon split into rival factions known as the Lamanites and the Nephites. The Nephites were eventually destroyed by the Lamanites in 385 AD. One of the few cities in Mesoamerica that retained its Preclassic name is called Lamanai—a close cognate to Lamanite and to the name of a Lamanite king: Lamoni.

The Book of Mormon was published long before anyone knew anything about the Olmec or the Maya. (“Olmec” and “Maya” are not the original names of the civilizations they describe. We don’t know what those groups called themselves or how many distinct civilizations may have been grouped under those monikers.) Joseph Smith was harshly criticized for claiming that Native Americans built sophisticated civilizations. Many criticisms of the Book of Mormon have fallen by the wayside as archaeology and linguistics have advanced.

The Book of Mormon contains a detailed textual map that, according to John L. Sorenson, closely matches the terrain and archaeological sites in Mesoamerica from Kaminaljuyu to Tres Zapotes.

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