An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon

by John L. Sorenson

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"Where did the Book of Mormon events take place?" Ever since the publication of the Book of Mormon, its readers have asked this question. And the book itself provides some intriguing clues. But only recently has enough information come to light to make it possible to place the book in a plausible geographical, historical, and cultural setting.

In An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Dr. John L. Sorenson, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University, presents a credible model for an ancient American background for the Book of Mormon. This model takes notice of extensive details given in the Book of Mormon descriptions of the land southward and of the land northward, of battle movements, of cities built and abandoned, of population and demographic data. Hundreds of geographical, historical, and cultural facts fall into place as his model is carried to its logical conclusions.

How does Dr. Sorenson proceed? In a word, he asks more questions than he answers. His words are probing and carefully weighed. The results are great surprises and rewarding insights on every page. He asks questions like "Who were these people?" "What might they have looked like?" "Who were their neighbors?" "How many of them were there?" "How did they live, eat, speak, work, or fight?" He finds plausible answers to these questions by matching specific data from reliable archaeological and anthropological studies of Mesoamerica with the entire spectrum of cultural and historical information from the Book of Mormon.

An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon is a thorough work of scholarship, a book that must be read by every serious student of the Book of Mormon.

About the Author

John L. Sorenson

John L. Sorenson has been intrigued by applying scholarly methods to Book of Mormon studies ever since 1949, when he finished a mission to New Zealand and the Cook Islands and enrolled in the new archaeology program at Brigham Young University. Years of advanced training in archaeology and anthropology (MA, BYU; PhD, UCLA) coupled with experience as a “dirt” archaeologist in Mexico, as chair of BYU’s anthropology department, and as an active Mesoamerican researcher uniquely prepared him for what has proved to be a lifelong project: investigating little-known aspects of the cultures of Book of Mormon peoples. In his scholarly career, Sorenson has written more than 200 books and articles, among them An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985), a landmark study that matches empirical data from scientific research with hundreds of geographical, historical, and cultural details gleaned from the Book of Mormon narrative. His research and publications in this area continue to flesh out a coherent, plausible model whose text-based criteria cannot be ignored when seeking to place the peoples and events of the Book of Mormon within a real-world setting. Sorenson was closely involved with the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) for 28 years, including 5 years as editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Earlier he worked as an applied anthropologist, as director of social sciences for General Research Corporation in Santa Barbara, California, and as founder and president of Bonneville Research Corporation in Provo. His legacy at BYU includes the introduction of anthropology into the university curriculum. In his so-called retirement years, he has vigorously pursued the interests that first captivated him: the cultures of Book of Mormon peoples, ancient Mesoamerican civilization, and social dimensions of Mormonism.

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