Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Friday, May 10, 2019

Neville’s reviews of ‘Mormon’s Codex’ now zero for five

Jonathan Neville is now five posts into his “review” of John L. Sorenson’s magnum opus, Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American Book. So far he has done…well, everything except review the claims Sorenson made in his book.

In part five of his series, “Illusion of scholarship – The Interpreter and Mormon’s Codex (part 5)” (posted May 8, 2019), Neville explains why he’s obsessing focusing on Sorenson’s book in particular: “One reason: Mormon’s Codex has imprinted M2C* on the minds of intellectuals throughout the Church.”

This is Neville-speak for “John Sorenson is taken seriously by educated, informed Church members and leaders while I am not, so I’m going to do everything I can to put his ideas down.”

But just when you expect Neville to actually review something—anything—Sorenson wrote, he switches tracks and instead attacks a recent article published by Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship.

I expected Neville’s inability to stay on topic and actually discuss Sorenson’s arguments. What I didn’t expect is this head-scratchingly bizarre claim from him:
Ethan Smith published View of the Hebrews in 1823. Most readers here know the history of that book and its connection to the Book of Mormon. The issue of Book of Mormon geography boils down to the point that the M2C scholars follow Ethan Smith, not Joseph Smith. M2C is based on View of the Hebrews and the anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons.
This claim is so absurd and that I’m almost tempted to just let it stand, without comment, as a testament to the farce that is Jonathan Neville’s blog.


You see, not one single proponent of “M2C”—not John Sorenson, not Mark Wright, not Brant Gardner, not Kerry Hull, not John Clark, not the Church History Department, not Book of Mormon Central, no one—has ever appealed to Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews to support their claims about Book of Mormon geography or Joseph Smith’s views on Book of Mormon geography. Not even once.

Can Neville cite a single “M2C intellectual” who has seriously entertained the theories of Ethan Smith? Of course he can’t. But that’s typical of Neville and other proponents of the Heartland hoax: Make broad, sweeping, generalized claims that don’t have a shred of evidence and move on, pretending they’ve won the argument.

But you know who does approvingly follow the theories of Ethan Smith?

Yep, that’s right: Heartlanders like Jonathan Neville.

Rodney Meldrum—the leading proponent of the Heartland hoax and friend of Jonathan Neville—uses the exact same kind of pseudo-science and parallelomania to make the exact same claims that Ethan Smith argued for in the 1820s—that the North American Indian tribes are descendants of ancient Hebrews, and that this is evident from the (supposed) similarities in Hebrew and American Indian customs, practices, lore, and artifacts.

The title page of Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews (1823), which is not the source of the Mesoamerican theory of Book of Mormon geography, but is strikingly like the claims made by Heartlanders.

It is unspeakably absurd for Neville to try to turn “M2C intellectuals” into fawning sycophants of Ethan Smith, but since he doesn’t have a single shred of evidence for his claims, “unspeakably absurd” is the best that Neville can hope to do.

At this point I’m expecting part 6 of Neville’s “review” of Mormon’s Codex to include his speculation about how M2C is teaming up with alien moon-men to hatch a plot to convince Church members that the Book of Mormon took place in the Sea of Tranquility.

Heck, that would make just as much sense as Neville’s current theories.

—Captain Hook

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

1 comment:

  1. Truly bizarre... Do people actually take this claim by Neville about Ethan Smith seriously?


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