John L. Sorenson’s 2011 Willes Center lecture, “Mormon’s Sources,” now on YouTube

06.27.2013 | The Maxwell Institute

It’s been nearly thirty years since FARMS published John L. Sorenson’s  landmark book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Since then, Sorenson has contributed more titles and articles arguing for a particular ancient geographical and cultural setting for the Book of Mormon, and the emeritus professor of anthropology at BYU has continued his research up to the present. The Maxwell Institute is gearing up for the release of Sorenson’s magnum opus, Mormon’s Codex, slated for publication later this year. To celebrate its publication, the Institute’s Matthew Roper will be highlighting excerpts from Mormon’s Codex in the coming months.

In the meantime, check out Sorenson’s 2011 Laura F. Willes Book of Mormon lecture, “Mormon’s Sources.” Similar to the work done by Brant Gardner, though perhaps not identical in conclusion (see here and here), Sorenson explains the various sources that Mormon used to compose his abridgment of the Nephite record, based on close scrutiny of the text itself.

The lecture is now available on the MI YouTube page (albeit with poor lighting). A transcript with accompanying charts is available here.

If we discover that the materials used to construct the story were chosen or construed in particular ways by its sources and the compiler, the reader deserves to be made aware of that fact. Mormon implies as much by his (or Moroni’s) writing a detailed title page that acknowledges that human factors inevitably intruded into the project. If analysis shows that other influences were at work in the compiling and editing process of which even they were not fully aware, our understanding of the Book of Mormon could be increased by taking those factors into account.” —John L. Sorenson

Established in 2007, the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies promotes a concentrated study of the Book of Mormon both as an ancient text and as an important publication in the modern world. As part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, the Willes Center advances efforts to understand the historical and spiritual value of this significant ancient source.