Michael R. Ash argues that non-Lehite peoples are mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

Michael R. Ash

Michael R. Ash, "Others in the Book of Mormon," in Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony In the Face of Criticism and Doubt, 2nd ed. (Redding, CA: FairMormon, 2013), 185-194

Michael R. Ash
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The traditional LDS belief asserts that the Lehites arrived to a nearly vacant New World, with the possible exception of some Jaredite survivors and the Mulekites. This assumption, like many other assumptions about the Book of Mormon, comes from a naïve reading of the text that was filtered through the nineteenth-century misunderstanding of the human migrations that populated the ancient New World. Early American settlers were fascinated with the fact that indigenous people already inhabited the New World. From where did these people originate? A number of frontiersman theorized that the Indians were remnants of the ten lost tribes of Israel. At first blush, this theory seemed to fit fairly well with the overall story of the Book of Mormon, even though the Book of Mormon peoples do not purport to come from any of the “lost tribes.”

According to archaeologists, anthropologists, and DNA specialists, the first human migrations to the New World happened at least 15,000 years ago and probably came in three distinct migrations across a land bridge (the Bering Strait) that once connected Alaska to Siberia. A number of scientists also recognize the possibility of multiple small transoceanic crossings from the Old to New World by way of watercraft.

While the question as to the earliest date and route of populating the Americas is still hotly debated, scientists almost universally agree that the earliest people arrived in the New World thousands of years before Book of Mormon people came on the scene. Likewise, virtually all LDS scholars, regardless of their views on the location of the narrative, argue that a closer reading of the Nephite scripture suggests that Book of Mormon civilizations occupied a small area of Mesoamerica and intermingled with existing Native Americans (see Chapter 14).

A number of critics claim that the Church of their youth taught one thing while modern apologists are now altering Church doctrine to conform to scientific positions such as DNA findings in the New World. First, it is important to understand that such issues are not doctrinal, so changes in theories are irrelevant to gospel truths. Second, changes in understanding the scriptures have come about in great part because the scriptures have been read with greater care. The belief that non-Nephite people lived in the Americas was accepted by many LDS scholars long before the advent of DNA science.

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