Lost in a Fertile Wilderness:
The Perils and Possibilities of Archaeology and the Book of Mormon
DATES: April 17 (Fullerton) and April 18 (La Canada – Flintridge).
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
We are excited to have as our April 2015 Miller Eccles speaker, Dr. Mark Alan Wright, an Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU. Dr. Wright is an an anthropologist, archaeologist and an expert on ancient Mesoamerican writing systems.
THE TOPIC: Latter-day Saints have been waiting for the earth itself to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon since the time of its coming forth. Joseph Smith himself attributed relics and remains unearthed in the New World to the Nephites and Lamanites, and ardent believers in the Book of Mormon have been doing so ever since. Unfortunately, too many of these claims have been made by well-meaning but misinformed enthusiasts plagued by a limited understanding of the intricacies of archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, and other related fields.
This presentation will use current Mesoamerican scholarship to problematize some of the more well-known claims that believers often point to as evidence of the book’s authenticity. It will emphasize, however, that despite these spurious claims, a strong case can still be made for maintaining a belief in the historicity of the Book of Mormon (and that Mesoamerica continues to be the most plausible location). Furthermore, it will show how the contributions of qualified and respected Latter-day Saint Mesoamericanists, guided by their belief in the Book of Mormon, continue to quietly shape the academic field of Mesoamerican studies in important ways.
THE SPEAKER: Dr. Mark Alan Wright is a native of Southern California, born and raised in Long Beach. He did his undergraduate studies at UCLA and earned his MA and PhD from UC Riverside. All of his degrees are in Anthropology, with subfields of specialization in linguistics and Mesoamerican archaeology. He regularly conducts research in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Dr. Wright is Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University and Associate Editor of The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies at the Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He has presented his research at academic conferences at Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Duke, and many other major universities. He has been published in Studies in the Bible and Antiquity, The Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, and Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, in addition to chapters published in a number of edited volumes.
He is married to Traci Wright, Adjunct Professor of History at Utah Valley University. They live with their beautiful and precocious toddler Annika on the shores of Utah Lake in the sleepy town of Vineyard.
Posted by Scott Volmar