Thanks for the interesting thoughts and remarks, Bob and Maxrep. Certainly, the new Interpreter
has been underwhelming at best so far. It's been what--five, six weeks since the launch? And how many articles do they have? And how many have been little more than off-the-cuff blog postings written by Bill "Fred" Hamblin? It is indeed interesting (gee, who would have guessed?) that they led off with articles by Bokovoy and Gardner, only to de-evolve back into the "classic-FARMS" grudge-carrying that characterized Old Guard Mopologetics at FARMS. For example, have you read John Sorenson's ridiculous "Open Letter" to Michael Coe?http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/an-ope ... chael-coe/
For one thing, this item is being recycled--IIRC, it first appeared in some iteration on FAIR and/or the ironically named Mormon Dialogue board. Second, a shocking number of the endnotes reference Sorenson's and/or other FARMS authors' own works. Can Sorenson refer to peer-reviewed, non-FARMS material in order to substantiate his points? This would be a problem in and of itself, but Sorenson takes it several steps further:
You might plead ignorance of any purely Mormon efforts to demonstrate a relationship between Mesoamerica and the Near East, but how could you not be aware of my 1971 article that discussed this very point?40 Yet that piece is now superseded by a 2009 paper accessible on-line.41
He's really trotting out this old gambit? "Clearly, you don't know what you're talking about because you haven't read my top-notch scholarship." Sorenson has been studying John Tvedtnes's playbook, it would seem, though he clearly hasn't yet learned to hold his tongue at the appropriate moments:
You might well not yet have seen this recent item since the outlet is relatively obscure.
ROFL! No, really? Of course, this isn't the only problem with the "Open Letter." This unfortunate rant is also filled with pissy and piddling nitpicking and "corrections" like this:
Dehlin refers to John Gee and Daniel Peterson, and Coe classes them as “Book of Mormon archaeologists, essentially” (part 3, 15:20). Gee’s expertise is in Egyptology, and Peterson is an Islamicist. Neither has claimed or does claim to be a “Book of Mormon archaeologist.”
Needlessly unprofessional asides like this:
Oh, come now. Peccaries were hunted, kept, and even herded, and they surely are “pigs.”20
And so on. The "Letter" wraps up in true "classic-FARMS" fashion:
I choose not to go further with this commentary; it has become rather tedious. My intention has been to inform you about errors in your statements in the podcast. I am sure you would not wish to continue saying what is not factual.
Finally, I have a large book in the editing process that deals with these matters in greater depth.42 (The ninety-seven-page list of references includes twenty-one of your writings.) When it is in print, I will be pleased to send you a copy. It presents 420 correspondences between the text of the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican cultural patterns and archaeological sequences. On that basis, I maintain there is no alternative to understanding that the Book of Mormon (“Mormon’s Codex”) could only have originated from the hands of a native Mesoamerican writer and that scholars will do well to study it seriously, not flippantly.
Wow. Did Sorenson himself actually write this? Was it heavily edited by either DCP or "Woody" Midgley? I'm sorry, Dr. S.: but you can't just say, "scholars will do well to study it seriously, not flippantly." The scholarship will stand or fall on the basis of its merits on not your embarrassing assertions. It's sort of like me saying, "You would do well to focus your time on legitimate publications, and not the likes of FAIR or Mormon Interpreter
," with the key difference being that my advice actually has merit.
The whole thing stinks. It is a clear example of the sort of nonsense that tore down the DCP/Midgley house of cards at the Maxwell Institute--this kind of grudge-carrying, whiny, endlessly nitpicky ranting (Sorenson realizes that this was an interview
, and not a peer-reviewed publication, right?) is what sealed the deal in terms of these guys getting the heave-ho--whether they are willing to admit it or not.
Some of us wondered if the MI
really would represent a new direction for the Old Guard: something that the level-headed Mormon Studies crew could support. The D. Bokovoy piece made it seem a bit like this is what they were up to, though I know wonder if Bokovoy/Gardner are having second thoughts, now that it's becoming clear that this Sorenson rant--along with Hamblin's angry sputtering--are going to be de rigueur
. I guess only time will tell.