2018 Book of Mormon Central Conference: Notes

My wife and I drove up to Provo Friday with our 12-year old and 13-year-old to attend this awesome conference. Thanks to our friends who watched our three youngest kids while we went, and thanks to Book of Mormon Central for organization such an amazing, enjoyable, educational event. Not only did we hear from several great teachers, but we got to take a tour of Herod’s temple with virtual reality headsets, see some museum displays about metal plates from Roman times and a Bedouin tent, the kids got to meet John Bytheway, and they even gave us lunch! :)

Here are my notes:


Matt Roper & Paul Fields: Abinadi to Zenos: 28 Speakers in the Book of Mormon

  • Multivariate Tukey-Kramer multiple comparison procedure shows 28 distinct speakers in the Book of Mormon.
  • Book of Mormon style cluster is completely distinct from other major 19th century works.
  • Diversity of speech in the Book of Mormon is easily far greater than any of the great novelists of the 19th century.
  • Style of each character is consistent throughout the text.
  • Mormon has 96,000 words, 36% of BoM
  • BoM narrator only = 15% of text, vs. 66% of 19th century novels
  • BoM voice diversity = 300, vs. 200 in 19th cent. Novels
  • BoM uses 28 styles consistently and congruently


Mark Wright: “In the Fields and in the Forests”: Mesoamerican Ecology and Cosmology in the Book of Mormon

  • Title from Mosiah 20:8.
  • To ancient Mesoamerica, fields are safe, forests (wilderness) is dangerous
  • Social spaces are modeled after cosmic spaces.
  • Preclassic period starts restricting temple space to high priests. Poor people couldn’t wear jade–reserved for upper class (priests, royalty).
  • Mayan temple rituals included a culmination in becoming god.
  • Mayans would integrate and adapt foreign influences: reflected in Ammon correlating “great Spirit” with God. After conversion, Lamoni’s father refers to “Great God,” not Great Spirit.
  • Jun Ajaw in a Mayan god, “one Lord,” lots of similarities to Jesus Christ.
  • Argemone mexicana–poisonous thistle. Mosiah 12:12, 7:30.
  • Mosiah 12:6–hail, east wind, pestilence, perhaps like destroyed maize and aftermath.
  • Helaman 5 on whirlwind and hail = Ritual of the Bacabs, colonial Yucatan document.
  • Alma quote Zenos to poor Zoramites: wilderness -> field -> house -> closet very much like inner / outer courts of temples
  • Mayan word saq means white/pure, tzuc means germinate/sprout/light breaking through. Compare Alma 32:42. Corn was considered a fruit, like the colors of corn above.

Rob Jex: Book of Mormon Videos

  • Season 1 of church videos on Book of Mormon go online September 21, 2018


John Bytheway: Experiencing the Book of Mormon in the Garden

  • 3 Nephi 23:14: “expounded all scriptures in one”
  • D&C 10:33: “Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony”
  • Alma 36:12 re: hard heart becomes “harrowed up,” meaning it was broken up, loosened.
  • “Cares of this world” in Matthew 13 footnoted to D&C 40
  • Bible taught about soil, BoM teaches about seed.
  • HBE quote re: soil and seed
  • Swell, enlarge, enlighten, delicious: SEED in Alma 32
  • Alma 33:22 redeem, atone, resurrect, judged = this word
  • Alma 32:39: “you gotta fix your ground” note Matt 13 ref in footnote
  • Alma 32:37-38: “you can’t have a harvest if you ain’t got roots”
  • NAMaxwell: “deliberately cultivated doubts”
  • Alma 32:41-43: faith diligence, patience…”use FDP to grow”
  • Alma 32:40–part 4 of the story (soil, seed, season, supper) see 1 Nephi
  • Compare Matt 13 with 1 Nephi 8 — same elements! :)
  • Alma 36…taste!
  • Ephesians 3:17-19: being “rooted” and “grounded”
  • BRM: three gardens–Eden, Gethsemane, Empty Tomb


John W. Welch: April 7 and the Commencement of the Translation of the Book of Mormon

  • Shorter version of a talk at BOMC website.
  • Maybe D&C 6 was revealed on April 7?
  • Not long ago, legal papers were found that recorded an agreement between Joseph Smith and Emma Hale’s dad for a house he bought on April 6, 1829–one signature was Oliver Cowdery as witness, so we know he was there and what the “business” was that day that he mentioned in a later record.
  • “Anchor Date 1” = April 7, date of start of translation w/ Cowdery
  • Anchor Date 2 = May 15, date of John the Baptist’s visit, based on 3 Nephi 11
  • Anchor Date 3 = May 30, finished Moroni, title page
  • Anchor Date 4 = June 11, date of copyright application
  • Anchor Date 5 = June 30, completed by now, 3 & 8 witnesses have visions by now
  • 85 days to translate becomes about 60, with interruptions.
  • Plus a dozen revelations of a total of over 6000 words
  • He and his wife experienced lessons pretending to translate as both Joseph and Oliver.
  • Imagine what Joseph and Oliver thought as they started with King Benjamin’s speech on that first day!
  • Only Benjamin used the word “omnipotent” in the BoM, and he uses it 5 times.


Gerrit Dirkmaat: The Printing of the Book of Mormon

  • E.B. Grandin advised them against printing the Book of Mormon, and tried to influence Martin Harris to pull out his money from the project.
  • Also declined to print the Book of Mormon: Jonathan Hadley, Thurlow Weed
  • Elihu Marshall agreed, but was too far away to be practical–money and distance. They return to Grandin, he then agrees to print it.
  • Hadley smeared the Book of Mormon in his newspaper, and gave us the earliest account of the translation! “Golden Bible” story…funny because it’s rude yet pretty accurate!


Jo Ann Seeley: Lehi’s Jerusalem

  • About 160 acres = Jerusalem in Lehi’s time, same size as BYU
  • Lehi most likely would have lived in Mishneh neighborhood, maybe his grandparents were refugees who came in when Assyria destroyed northern kingdom.
  • Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1-6) is good king: removed high places, destroyed brazen serpent idols, kept commandments
  • At Lachish, horned altar found with horns broken off from Hezekiah’s time, showing his reforms. Two years ago, a gate shrine found with toilet nearby, to desecrate it.
  • Seal impressions found recently, one of them says “Isaiah prophet” (?) near one that says Hezekiah [check recent news for details]
  • Examples of other Canaanite idols and figures in Jerusalem around Lehi’s time
  • Josiah also makes righteous reforms, like Hezekiah did, around Lehi’s time
  • Jeremiah 36:22-23, Josiah’s sons failed, included Jehoiakim the Tyrant.
  • 2 Chronicles 36:15-16 mentions prophets at the same time as Lehi
  • “Silver Scroll,” earliest text of Hebrew scriptures, from Numbers 6:24-26
  • Several seals of prominent people from Lehi’s time
  • Ahiel’s house, an actual house from Lehi’s time is preserved


Tyler Griffin: Book of Mormon Geography: A Powerful Backdrop of the Book’s Message

  • 550 geographical references in a work of 268,000 words, only about .2% of the book.
  • Created a generic internal model that isn’t meant to match any external model. Zarahemla to Nephi is always up, Nephi to Zarahemla is always down.
  • Captain Moroni in Alma 43-51 shows examples of how to resist spiritual opposition as well as physical. He prepared cities farthest from the enemy as well, for example.
  • Mormon gives cities on “east border” on seashore in order, south to north, in Alma 51
  • Alma 51-63 is about how to get rid of sin that has taken root inside us.
  • Moroni focuses on one thing at a time.
  • See map at virtualscriptures.org
BOMC conf chiasm

I cracked the code in the schedule! Notice how the most important part is emphasized in the central turning point.


Before the conference started


One of several such displays in the art section. 


I got to meet the artist of this fantastic painting from last year of John Welch’s discovery of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, Bro. Pack. I gave him my contact info so we could discuss ordering a print for me! :) 


John Bytheway focused on the important stuff


After lunch, when garbage cans filled up, people started stacking their trash neatly nearby. Isn’t that the most Mormon thing you’ve ever seen?


Part of a few museum displays about metal plates and related artifacts from Roman times

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