Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle

Maya civilisation, at its peak some 1,500 years ago, covered an area about twice the size of medieval England, with an estimated population of around five million.

“With this new data it’s no longer unreasonable to think that there were 10 to 15 million people there,” said Mr Estrada-Belli, “including many living in low-lying, swampy areas that many of us had thought uninhabitable.”

Most of the 60,000 newly identified structures are thought to be stone platforms that would have supported the average pole-and-thatch Maya home.

Mormons are divided regarding the location of the lands described in the Book of Mormon. Recorded statements and journal recollections from Founder Joseph Smith suggest they were from New York to Independence, Missouri along the Missouri River.

The largest known Indian mound in the United States is Monks Mound which is 248 miles east of Independence. Twice I’ve visited and walked up Monks Mound. The beginning of its construction dates from 900-955 CE–much later than the Book of Mormon times.

Notes from Celebrating The New Edition of Royal Skousen’s Analysis of Textual Variants

by Robert John Stevens, April 13, 2017

Last night Mel Luthy and I attended a lecture by Royal Skousen who has spent most of his career studying the Book of Mormon.

Most people in the audience were 20-30 years older than I—which again affirms that my interests are not shared by the majority, especially my and younger generations.

Royal Skousen said he had a spiritual witness once while reading the Akish account that the Book of Mormon is actually history.

He doesn’t know why the Book of Mormon is written in Early Modern English but says he has not inquired about it either; instead, his work is purely a technical analysis but he believes the Book of Mormon was given to us by God.

He believes the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (aka JST), after Genesis and the Book of Moses, is not inspired and is heavily influence by Sidney Rigdon.

He says Joseph Smith’s use of the word translation is wrong—what he really meant is that the Book of Mormon was transmitted through him. Royal said Joseph used a white stone, not the brown stone as the LDS Church publicized.

He explained he has not found the use of the word “and” in the Book of Mormon in any writings at any age and he finds that very odd. In other words, instead of the normal construct X and Y then Z; instead, the original Book of Mormon in several places used X and Y and Z.

There is one place in the dictation where it appears Oliver Cowdrey fell asleep while writing. Joseph then wrote the next 28 words so Royal thinks Joseph never asked where he left off because he always completed each segment before taking a break.

He said the best copy of the original 28% of the Book of Mormon that survived is 1950s photography—From that statement, I inferred the 28% is too faded to read.

After the meeting at the refreshments and signing gathering upstairs, Royal signed my copy of his book, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text.

Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text

Celebrating The New Edition of Royal Skousen’s Analysis of Textual Variants

Wednesday, 12 April 2017 | 7 P.M., B192 JFSB



Please join us for a presentation by Royal Skousen on the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project celebrating the just-published second edition of the six-volume Analysis of Textual Variants. A reception and book signing will follow.


Second Edition of Analysis of Textual Variants

Analysis of Textual Variants

Analysis of Textual Variants and other volumes of the Critical Text Project are available at BYU Studies (1063 JFSB) and on our website.

Lecture sponsored by BYU Studies, The Interpreter Foundation, and BYU’s Department of Linguistics and English Language.

This lecture will be recorded and posted online at a later date.

White House staff told to preserve Russia-related materials

Leaders who welcome document preservation and transparency are most likely honest; Thieves, liars and crooks order the destruction of evidence.

Compare this act to the destruction of the 9/11 documents and Cheney’s emails. See White House staff told to preserve Russia-related materials.

Compare this to Mormon Founder Joseph Smith who encouraged his members to keep journals, and hired scribes to record his sermons and to preserve his documents; however, he wasn’t transparent about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon:

“When pressed for specifics about the process of translation, Joseph repeated on several occasions that it had been done ‘by the gift and power of God’ and once added, ‘It was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the book of Mormon.’ — The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon

Are the Notes on Joseph Smith’s 1833 City of Zion Plat Written in Early Modern English?

by Robert John Stevens, February 28, 2017

I noticed today that Mormon entrepreneur David Hall’s PowerPoint slides on the City of Zion says the “Language of the plot is Tyndale’s 16th century English.”

March 1, 2017: I called David Hall and asked how he determined the notes on the City of Zion Plan were Tyndale’s English. He said Stan Carmack helped him identify that with the help of Royal Skousen. So if the notes are in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, then how were they Early Modern English?

Read the notes on the Plat of the City of Zion, circa Early June–25 June 1833 and also Page 2 of the Plat of the City of Zion. These documents say the handwriting is that of Frederick G. Williams (1787 – 1842).

It is very unlikely that Frederick G. Williams wrote in Early Modern English—a language 300 years before his time.

I love Joseph Smith so please don’t shoot me as the messenger for asking this question:

If the Book of Mormon was not a 16th-century manuscript that came into the possession of Joseph Smith, then why would the City of Zion plat notes be written in Early Modern English?

Joseph Smith said the City of Zion plat was given to him by revelation, so if the notes are Early Modern English then in 1833 did Jesus Christ speak in Early Modern English? Or was this revelation given via an angelic being who did?

Did Frederick G. Williams copy the notes directly from a 16th-century plat?

Click this link on NewVistas Foundation Website and then click the link Joseph Smith’s City Plot to see that PowerPoint slide.

Notice the notes were removed from the Revised Plat of the City of Zion, circa Early August 1833.

March 1, 2017: I called my Barry Prettyman of Cole’s Engineering in Spanish Fork, Utah. Barry is a surveyor and engineer. I asked if he ever heard of the word “perches” which was used in the notes of the City of Zion Plan and must be a unit of measurement. He hadn’t heard of the word. Is it an Early Modern English word?

See Also

Early Christians Bound Themselves by a Solemn Oath

by Robert John Stevens, November 27, 2016

Anyone who has read the Book of Mormon learned that secret combinations bound themselves by a solemn oath to deceive, overthrow governments, murder and plunder.

Evil seems to always be a counterfeit version of a good counterpart. Where solemn oaths used by good people, for good? Read this quote by Pliny the Younger who in A.D. 112 wote this about Christians:

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. — quoted in Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources

Solemn oaths are found today in many religious organizations and rituals.

A Response to “The Book of Mormon: Man-Made or God-Given?”

by Robert John Stevens, November 16, 2016

A good friend who is serving as an LDS mission president asked me to watch the November 3, 2016 BYU Devotional by Tad R. Callister entitled, The Book of Mormon: Man-Made or God-Given? and to send him my comments.

Since 1979, I’ve considered many arguments for and against the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. If Joseph Smith didn’t declare it to be delivered to him on gold plates by an angel sent from heaven, the book would be considered today a masterpiece by all Christian religions and deeply studied at colleges and universities.

Joseph Smith’s family was poor and labored daily just to keep alive. They had no time or resources to become religious theologians and professional writers. Joseph grew up in fields they manually cleared from thick woods. He only had a third-grade formal education. I agree the notion that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon is absurd.

I agree with Tad Callister’s statement that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion and our testimony. The Mormon Church rises or falls upon the book’s authenticity.

The viable alternative he failed to mention is that Joseph Smith had a very old manuscript, probably one from the 16th century that had occasional revisions and vocabulary updates through the 1700s—that’s the best explanation other than it was divinely transmitted to Joseph.

Witnesses testified Joseph Smith put his head into a hat to obscure all light when translating the Book of Mormon. How long did they stay and watch? Did Joseph memorize some text to fool them or read from paper in the bottom of his hat?

Callister mentions the alternative explanation that others wrote the Book of Mormon. The book claims to be written by mortal men on earth under divine inspiration, not by heavenly beings; however, it wasn’t written in Joseph’s language or the language of his day—it is full of Early Modern English that pre-dates the 1611 King James Bible English and would have been very difficult for Joseph or anyone in his day to identify and mimic.

I doubt Sidney Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon but he may have been involved in delivering the book to the Smith family for its debut. If such a connection existed, the Smith family may not have ever known it.

Callister is wrong about Fawn Brodie’s quote about Joseph’s inexperience. Because of inexperience and a desire to solve a problem, entrepreneurs proceed.

In Callister’s words, we do have somewhere else to go—that either God, angels, or aliens wrote and transmitted the book to Joseph Smith.

LDS Historians believe Emma Smith lied about polygamy and the temple ceremonies so how can we embrace her testimony regarding the authenticity of the Book of Mormon?

Church Historian Scott Faulring told me Hyrum Smith stood up and denied polygamy in the April 1844 General Conference and yet had plural wives at that time so how can we believe Hyrum?

Yesterday evening at the BYU Library I stopped and spoke to LDS Historian Richard L. Anderson who is ninety years old. I mentioned Royal Skousen’s work on the Book of Mormon and asked Richard if he thought there was a committee in heaven that translated the Book of Mormon into 16th century Early Modern English. Richard said he recently went to SLC with Royal and asked Royal the same question but Royal refused to comment.

Did Oliver Cowdrey’s wife and daughter burn his papers after his death to cover up deceptive evidence?

Why is LDS Historian Richard L. Anderson so interested in releasing a book before he dies that contains two hundred of Oliver’s surviving letters with the goal, as he stated to me, to depict Oliver as an honest man? Is there evidence to suggest Oliver was not honest? It is difficult to keep up when so much information continues to be discovered.

By comparing the 29% of the surviving original manuscript to the printer’s manuscript (a copy made for the printer), how many changes to the Early Modern English did Joseph and Oliver make? If we weren’t trying to defend the Book of Mormon’s authenticity, wouldn’t that be evidence that they were trying to cover up the age of the book’s writings?

Why didn’t Mr. Callister mention the discoveries regarding Early Modern English? It was even mentioned in Deseret News August 21, 2014. “Defending the Faith: The very surprising language of the Book of Mormon.”

It would be difficult to believe Callister, so knowledgeable on the origins of the Book of Mormon, didn’t know about the Early Modern English discovered in the Book of Mormon. It is more plausible his agenda was damage control. His tactics of ignoring the best and most plausible evidence is a common for deceptive persuasion.

If the origins of Book of Mormon are just as Joseph claimed them to be, then we need compelling arguments to understand why the book is full of Early Modern English grammar, structure, vocabulary and phrases.

Stone boxes weren’t unique. An American 1815 stone box time capsule may have known by the public in its day.

It will require much time and study to understand the Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon and its origins. As my mission president friend wrote out, “The people uncovering the research are deeply devout: Skousen, Peterson, Carmack. They don’t seem to doubt. They are fascinated.”

After reading this, I suppose some Mormon friends may never speak to me again. Or they may agree we need to wait and be patient for answers to unfold as they always do.

There may be some doctrine, some policy, some bit of history that puts you at odds with your faith, and you may feel that the only way to resolve that inner turmoil right now is to walk no more with the Saints. If you live as long as I do, you will come to know that things have a way of resolving themselves. An inspired insight, a revelation may shed new light and insight on an issue. But remember, the Restoration is not an event, but it continues to unfold. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, To Whom Shall We Go, 2016 General Conference

Most Mormons remain ignorant of controversial issues and keep distant from those with questions. I can’t exist like that. Either issues are solvable or they must be taken as evidence of deception. Either the Book of Mormon was a book from heaven or it was a fraud.

The Book of Mormon, as far as I know, is unique in that it guarantees an answer to those who read and pray about its truthfulness. I am one of millions who read and prayed about it and became converted. I’m amazed that even in the 21st century we’re still discovering new things about the Book of Mormon. Clearly it is a marvelous work and a wonder.

Truth prevails and can be discovered by those who pursue it.

Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon is evidence that has the potential to either invalidate or validate the foundation of the Mormon religion. Honest people remain honest and crooks, liars. If the Book of Mormon was translated in heaven by 16th century writers then that is faith promoting.

I could write a computer program that searches all online pre-1830 texts, compares every word and phrase to those in the Yale edition of the Book of Mormon and create a report showing when they came into existence, when usage peaked and when they fell out of usage.

If you were God, would you be upset or happy if mankind discovered the identity of the translators of the Book of Mormon? I’d be happy. What if the Book of Mormon is a con job but you, as God, liked it anyway?

Update: November 21, 2016

Saturday my copy arrived of “The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text” by Royal Skousen who wrote 28% of the original manuscript survived.
And the one-sixth of the 1830 Book of Mormon that was typeset directly from the original manuscript was Helaman 13:17 to the end of Mormon. Mormons are unique in that there were no Mormons before the Book of Mormon whereas other religions had followings before their scriptures were written including Jews and Christians.

Reading the original text is better than I expected. Everyone should have a copy of this.