How much do you really know about the Book of Mormon? Would you like to build your own library of key materials connecting scholarly studies with the Scriptures? Many of our correspondents say they want serious, reliable studies but don't know how to identify or obtain them. FARMS is starting two publication series to help meet that need.
"FARMS Reprints" are proven pieces already published or circulated which represent substantial contributions to knowledge. Some may even be classics. Some are "oldies but goodies" while others may be too new to be widely saluted. While few research contributions are so ultimately true that they can never be modified or reinterpreted in the light of new evidence, the articles chosen as Reprints we consider worthy contributions of continuing value deserving of close attention by scriptural scholars. This issue of the Newsletter offers the first ten such papers which have been made available. Copies can be obtained for a nominal fee by sending in the order blank at the back of the Newsletter.
If you are aware of a paper you think could qualify as a FARMS reprint, let us know. Our research committees will evaluate all suggestions for possible inclusion in the series.
Preliminary Studies are more tentative papers which treat interesting questions, evidence or solutions to problems which could be of significant value to many of our participants, particularly in showing the "state of the art" in a given area of research. Some of these studies will emerge from the crucible of scholarly appraisal to become published articles or papers for conferences. Others will be replaced by different suggested answers or refuted by further investigation. Again our research committees will be pleased to review any papers submitted for possible inclusion in this series.
1. Keith H. Meservy, "Discoveries at Nimrud and the 'Sticks' of Ezekiel 37," Newsletter and Proceedings, SEHA, No. 142 (Nov. 1978): 1-10. (A less detailed version appeared in the Sept. 1977 Ensign, pp. 22-27.) Ezek. 37:16-17 describing the joining of "the stick" of Joseph to "the stick" of Judah has long been interpreted by Latter-day Saints as referring to the Book of Mormon and the Bible; but the context seems to refer to a scepter, rather than a scroll. A 1953 discovery in Iraq demonstrated that wooden tablets covered with beeswax were used anciently as writing materials. Tablets were "joined" with hinges along their sides, providing a clear explanation of the "sticks" as scriptures according to Ezekiel.
2. Hugh Nibley, "The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State," Western Political Quarterly, 2 (1949): 328-44. This paper "undertakes to show how by using marked arrows in a peculiar way (to establish ownership) prehistoric hunters solved the problem of excercising dominion over vast and scattered areas, and then applied the same solution to the more difficult problem of welding peasant and nomad cultures into some sort of union, resulting in the great centralized state of historic times."
3. Hugh Nibley, "Tenting, Toll, and Taxing," Western Political Quarterly, 19 (1966): 599-630. "It is the purpose of this paper to show how the state spent the most impressionable years of its childhood living as an orphan of the storm in tents of vagabonds where it acquired many of the habits and attitudes that still condition its activities." It interprets tolls and taxes as "alternatives to fighting" when nomads appeared in the territory of city-dwellers.
4. John L. Sorenson, "The Book of Mormon as a Mesoamerican Codex," Newsletter and Proceedings, SEHA, No. 139 (Dec. 1976): 1-9. The author shows that the description of the format of the Book of Mormon source (compare the Anthon transcript), aspects of its style, and its content are "not contrary to what we would expect if the source had been a Mesoamerican codex" or native document. The bulk of the paper consists of an extensive listing of concepts and symbols, with documentation in the literature, which are shared in the Book of Mormon, ancient Near Eastern thought, and Mesoamerican beliefs.
5. John L. Sorenson, "Some Mesoamerican Traditions of Immigration by Sea," El Mexico Antiguo, 8 (1955): 425-38. Statements by Ixtlilxochitl, Sahagun, Torquemada, Moctezuma, Landa, etc. are quoted demonstrating widespread belief among Mesoamerican peoples that their ancestors had come from across the sea.
6. John A. Tvedtnes, "A Phonemic Analysis of Nephite and Jaredite Proper Names," Newsletter and Proceedings, SEHA, No. 141 (Dec. 1977): 1-7. The author provides a linguistic analysis of the names, showing that the Jaredite names follow a somewhat different pattern. A basic source for any further study of the names or the languages involved, which are clearly Semitic.
7. John W. Welch, "The Narrative of Zosimus and the Book of Mormon ," manuscript, 1979. This narrative is a tale which may predate the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Texts of it have been preserved in Slavonic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Karshuni, Arabic and Greek. In the story righteous Zosimus dwells in a desert cave, prays to the Lord, and is brought to a promised land after exhausting wanderings in the wilderness. Elements of the passage involve a river, a cloud of darkness, the fruit of a tree, and instructions from an angel. In addition to a detailed account of the Zosimus narrative, comparisons are made to the Book of Mormon, and some possible explanations are offered for resemblances.
8. John W. Welch, "Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon," BYU Studies, (Autumn 1969): 69-84. This landmark study defines and describes the chiastic form in the Old Testament, then analyzes and interprets passages using the form which are found in 2 Nephi, Mosiah, and Alma.
9. John W. Welch, "The Theological Treatment of Melchizedek in Alma 13:1319," manuscript, 1980. Alma's treatment of Melchizedek "is unparalleled in other religious thought which has treated Melchizedek for theological purposes in a variety of ways." This paper concludes that Alma's interpretation "may well reflect the oldest traditions known," compares Alma's understanding with his later roles and functions, and attempts to determine Melchizedek's place in Book of Mormon religious practice.
10. H. Curtis Wright, "Ancient Burials of Metal Documents in Stone Boxes - Their Implications for Library History," Journal of Library History, 16 (Winter 1981): 48-70. The inscriptions of Darius on gold and silver tablets found in a carefully prepared foundation in 1926 in Persepolis "constitute the high point in a long tradition of concealing metallic documents, which persists from Sumerian to Alexandrian times." This paper reviews the history of such plates in stone boxes before and after the plates of Darius and suggests some implications for the history of libraries. (A much more extensive treatment of metal plates by the author is in press elsewhere and will be available as a Reprint later.)