REPRINTS AND PRELIMINARY REPORTS
Paul Hoskisson analyzes words, phrases and writing styles from the Book of Mormon text. His paper, "The Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Languge of the Book of Mormon," concludes that the scriptural record "Is what it purports to be: a document with deep roots in the ancient Near Eastern milieu of Lehi's culture."
A leading Methodist scholar, Dr. James H. Charlesworth, surveys the appearance and meaning of terms like "the Messiage," "the Annointed One," and "the Christ" in the Pseudepigrapha. He then examines those same words in the Book of Mormon and finds several interesting parallels. The concept of the Messiah ministering to the lost tribes of Israel, for instance, is found in the Book of Mormon as well as in certain early Jewish and Christian texts. "Messianism in the Pseudepigrapha and the Book of Mormon" is an intriguing and significant work.
V. Garth Norman is one of the professional archaeologists who are currently researching the Mesoamerican context of the Book of Mormon. His paper, "San Lorenzo as the Jaredite City of Lib," examines a hypothesis that has gained credence among Book of Mormon scholars. This study shows why the large Olmec sit of San Lorenzo on the Coatzacoalcos River in southern Veracruz is a good candidate for the "great city" that Lib and his people built "by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land." (Ether 10:30)
A letter written by Lucy Mack Smith in early 1829 was discovered last year by Brent Ashworth, a Provo, Utah manuscript collector. Historian Dean C. Jessee discusses the background and content of that letter in his article, "Lucy Mack Smith's 1829 Letter to Mary Smith Pierce." Besides bearing powerful eyewitness testimony to the divinity of her son's work, Lucy's letter reflects information contained in the lost 116 pages. For instance, it refers to Ishmael as Lehi's "wife's brother."
F.A.R.M.S.' outstanding media production, Lands of the Book of Mormon has been well received, and many people have requested a written version of the script. This is now available with footnotess and annotations documenting the statements made in the show. This concise, lucid piece is recommended to anyone seeking a clearer understanding of the possible physical and cultural setting of the Book of Mormon.
In the last 20 years, Biblical scholars have identified three types of lawsuits which Old Testament prophets have in mind when they indict the Israelites for breaking the law of God. Prophetic speeches of this nature are classified as prophetic lawsuits. "Prophetic Lawsuits in the Hebrew Bible and Book of Mormon," by Richard R. McGuire, analyzes the words of Samuel the Lamanite, Abinadi, and King Benjamin to show that all three ancient Israelite contexts are reflected in Book of Mormon prophetic speech.
Mormons are not the only ones to have espoused the notion that members of the House of Israel settled anciently in the Americas. The idea that native Americans are descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes was quite popular in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries and a sizeable literature has grown up around this theory in relation to ideas about Indian origins. In his paper entitled "The House of Israel and Native Americans." D. Brent Smith surveys this literature and concludes that the Book of Mormon account of the Nephites is fundamentally dissimilar to the speculations about Israelites in America that were common in Joseph Smith's day.
Many ancient documents, including the Old Testament, mention water ordeals that one could undergo as a means of verifying one's oath or seeking a divine dispensation of justice. Numbers 5:11-31 describes one such ordeal where a woman would drink "the bitter water that causes the curse" if she was accused of infidelity. Michelle Mitchell, in her paper "Ordeal by Water," shows how many Book of Mormon passages, including some pertaining to baptismal imagery or crossing the seas contain elements of traditional ancient water ordeals.