UPDATES FOR 1986—FULL OF IDEAS AND INFORMATION
Each month the Foundation prepares an Update describing a new item of ongoing research. These Updates are concise statements of interesting developments, aimed at the general reader. Like executive business reports, they are factual and documented, but straightforward and practical. They are mailed each month to active researchers, contributors, and volunteers.
Each year the monthly Updates are collected and can be ordered as a set. The twelve Updates for 1986, which can be ordered by using the attached form, offer a bonanza of information at a bargain price.
1. Old World Languages in the New World. A look at a revolutionary hypothesis and strong evidence of a close relationship between a group of Indian languages in central California and a language family in western Asia. Here is an exceptional example of significant cultural transmission over long distances and geographical barriers.
2. How Long Did It Take to Translate the Book of Mormon? A concise statement of extensive research showing that the Book of Mormon was translated within a span of 65 to 75 days. Considering the historical complexity and theological density of the Book of Mormon, this was a very impressive feat.
3. Columbus: By Faith or Reason? Dominant historical opinion in recent years has seen Columbus being led by science, reason, restlessness, or desire for conquest, in his discovery of the New World. A recent historical reassessment of the primary evidence, however, argues persuasively that Columbus was deeply influenced by prophecy and revelation, consistent with the prophetic description foretelling this event in 1 Nephi 13.
4. Winds and Currents: A Look at Nephi's Ocean Crossing. What combination of winds, currents, times, and distances would make it feasible for a vessel to sail from the southern coast of Arabia across the Indian Ocean and then across the Pacific to Central America? A fascinating sketch of the route and natural conditions that Lehi's party may have encountered on their voyage is given in the light of recent research.
5. Was Helaman 7-8 an Allegorical Sermon? It was common for early Israelite prophets to use allegories in delivering their prophetic messages. Might Nephi's sermon in Helaman 7-8 have been similarly staged as a prophetic allegory in the form of a funeral sermon? Several details viewed in this light add rich possibilities to the symbolic meaning of that text.
6. Our Nephite Sacrament Prayers. Few people stop to think each Sunday that the LDS sacrament prayers come from the Book of Mormon. Here is an outline of the meaningful development of the sacrament prayers in the world of Israelite and Nephite covenant-making together with the words of Jesus in 3 Nephi 18.
7. Prophecy Among the Maya. A variety of forms of prophecy have recently been noted in studies about the Maya Indians. Similarities between the manner of prophecy and the social function of prophets among the Maya compare visibly at a number of points with the Book of Mormon.
8. Four Quarters. Book of Mormon writers commonly spoke of their land and of the earth as being divided into four quarters. Good evidence exists that ancient Americans likewise divided their territorial lands into four quadrants for administrative purposes and envisioned the world and the heavens divided into quadrants. The symbolic meaning and orientation of this world view related here to several aspects of the Book of Mormon.
9. Lehi's Trail and Nahom Revisited. This Update reports a trip to Yemen by F.A.R.M.S. members Warren and Michaela Aston to explore the area known as "Nehem," which may be related to the Book of Mormon "Nahom." For the first time, the two Semitic language roots possibly standing behind the Book of Mormon word "Nahom" are discussed, and recent Arabia's frankincense trail are related to Lehi's land Bountiful, which may have been farther west than the previously suggested Salalah.
10. Three Accounts of Alma's Conversion. Few are aware that the Book of Mormon contains three accounts of the conversion of Alma the Younger. Interesting results come from a careful comparison of these three texts. Precise and distinctive phrases, remarkable consistency despite separation over long sections in the text, and other developments show that these three accounts bear the unmistakable imprint of a single individual.
11. Mesoamericans in Pre-Spanish South America. Recent analyses of the Book of Mormon demonstrate that only a limited territory in Mesoamerica is involved in the record itself. This has raised questions about how the ancient cultures of South America might connect with the book. Recent archaeological evidence affords an answer, providing long-standing cultural interactions between Mesoamerica and South America. Thus, the peoples of South America can be assumed to have incorporated genes and cultural elements from Book of Mormon peoples.
12. Parallelism, Merismus and Difrasismo. A recent article identifying a number of Hebraic poetical devices in the Book of Mormon opens the possibility of similar comparisons with ancient American literature as well. The familiar forms of parallelism and chiasmus, as well as merismus or difrasismo (the expression of an inclusive concept by a pair of adjectives) are found both in ancient Near Eastern and pre-Columbian literatures.
If you missed the Updates for the previous two years, copies of the monthly Updates for 1984 and for 1985 are also still available through the normal catalog channels. Each year's collection costs only $1.00.