There are 10 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Coe”.

  1. “A large variety of shields is known to have been used by Mesoamerican warriors from Pre-Classic times onward, but ‘helmets’ are not mentioned at all in the Book of Mormon.”

    I’m sure this would be appreciated if it has not already been pointed out, but, while “helmets” do not appear in the text, “head-plates” (and “shields to defend their heads”) are mentioned several times, earliest in the Ether chronicle, then among the middle-period Nephites, and then also among their enemy Lamanites, who also had learned to produce a diversity of shielding:

    Hel. 1:14 – “…The Lamanites had gathered together an innumerable army of men, and armed them … with head-plates, and with breastplates, and with all manner of shields of every kind.”

  2. Dan (or anyone at Interpreter):

    Did Coe ever respond to this open letter? Do we have any idea that he even read it? Did John Sorenson ever speak to Coe about his Dehlin interview?

  3. Dr. Sorenson,
    Your letter here is superb. I was an archaeological student in the department in the late 70’s. We used your pre-publication manuscript of An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, in the Archaeology and the Scriptures class. I have more appreciation than ever for your scholarly and most professional writings after reading this letter and seeing you on the response video to “The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon” anti-LDS video. I can’t wait to see “Mormon’s Codex.”

    Very Sincerely,
    Connie Brown Voss (BYU ’79)

  4. I find it interesting that Martin Harris, in taking characters copied from the plates, could have them confirmed as genuine in his day by two Professors: Charles Anthon and Dr. Mitchell. But when it comes to a Professor at a University named after a Prophet of God, namely Brigham Young, we learn that the Prophet Joseph Smith didn’t know what he was talking about in regards to geography until he had read a travel book about the Maya written by John Lloyd Stephens.

    “most of what Joseph Smith said or implied about geography indicates that he did not understand or was ambiguous about the fact, as it turns out, that Mesoamerica was the particular setting for Nephite history.”

    How wonderful to call into question the integrity of the Prophet Joseph Smith, then claim he learned, two years before he was murdered, the prime location of the Nephite Nation from a travel book about the Maya, then claim there’s “‘there is too much gratuitous “Mayanization” going on throughout this entire discussion.” when another Professor Coe, disagrees with you.

    The Prophet Joseph Smith always comes out as the one in error in your Geography Theory.

    Best regards,
    Stephen Reed

  5. I read this a while ago off of Mormon Dialogue and fully appreciated it then and still do now. Very well stated. I actually remember listening to the Michael D. Coe interview (all three parts) and stating to myself that this guy obviously doesn’t know the Book of Mormon and was even more dumbfound to see that John Dehlin spoon fed him questions and wouldn’t dare question any of his answers which was exactly the opposite of what he did with Brant Gardner during his interview (sounds like someone has a preconcieved agenda to me!) Without disrespect to Michael D. Coe I think he didn’t realize what he had stepped into with that interview and hope he appreciates this feedback from Dr. Sorenson because it was very well done and in a very professional manner.

  6. What is even more tragic in this Dehlin – Coe exchange (in which neither of them show any real familiarity with the Book of Mormon text) is the failure of Coe to acknowledge data readily available to him from his own excavations:

    re M. Coe [Part 1, 24:27] “nobody ever used iron in the New World, . . never were found, ever”:
    As a self-described expert on the Olmec, Professor Coe knows very well that there are tons of worked iron artifacts available in Olmec sites such as San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, Tres Zapotes, and even in Chiapas. There were plenty of iron-ore outcroppings available, particularly in nearby Oaxaca (Flannery 1976:40,58-60,317-325), where San Jose Mogoté seems to have been the primary center for the processing of such ores into elite exchange objects such as small mirrors and drilled beads (Flannery 1976:40,59-60,109,288,317-325,357,363, Flannery & Schoenwetter 1970:148-149, Blanton, et al. 1993:60-61,166, Flannery & Marcus 1983:55).

    re M. Coe [Part 1, 19:00] on absurdity of navigation by compass in the Book of Mormon:

    Coe fails to mention his own excavation of what he terms “the world’s first known compass” (Coe, Snow, and Benson 1986:100), and probably used for site layout and building orientation. Robert Fuson long ago suggested as much for the orientation of Maya sites and buildings, based on Coe’s discovery of that magnetite “pointer” at the Early Formative Olmec site of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán (Fuson 1969:508-510, Coe in Sharer & Grove 1989:79; Lowe 1989:44 [fig 4.6 item n],53-54; Coe & Diehl 1980:244-245 figs 251, 255). Coe told Fuson that this pointer was

    a flattened, oblong piece that is perfectly squared on all faces, and with a longitudinal groove extending along one surface. The object was made with such great care that it appears to be machined (Fuson 1969:508).

    Coe succesfully tested the pointer on a cork mat in a plastic bowl of water, and also suggested that the Olmec may have suspended their magnetite mirrors on string for the same purpose. Fuson notes that the pointer could as easily have been floated on liquid mercury – available and extensively used in ancient Mesoamerica (Fuson 1969:508-510; cf. Baity 1973:443; Carlson 1981:117-147).

    Why didn’t he mention any of this to Dehlin?

  7. Everything I know about John Sorensen and his character, and his professionalism make me more appreciative of him and what he is trying to do. He wants only the Truth spread over the earth, not falsehood and unfounded inuendos against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with its book of religious history, the divinely translated Book of Mormon. I much enjoy his clarifications in separating the wheat from the dross.

  8. Having been a loyal subscriber of FARMS since 68, I have followed with great interest the various changes over tne last years and welcomed each change. Thank you for your letter which has added to the understanding of the events occurring over the last weeks. My warmest wishes for your success, to you and Daniel Peterson and all who will join in discourse.

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