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I don't think identifying North and South American indians as "descendants of Lehi" is in any conflict with the LGH. If Lehi was a real person, then he was surely an ancestor of most modern of Native Americans.

What is more problematic is to say that Lehi's party were the "principle ancestors." And I think it's also problematic to say that pacific islanders are descended from Lehi.

if lehi was an ancestor of most natives in the americas then that definitely would have come out somewhere in the dna studies.

i think this is something that the church is purposely being vague on. i believe that most of the leadership really doesn't know for sure who the descendents of lehi are, especially in light of recent dna related research. w/o an official position it is hard for any critics to pin them down, since it's hard to refute such a vague claim. they'll continue to let the apologists fight this battle, and remain on the sidelines rather than issue any definitive proclamations.

" isn't an official manual of instruction supposed to give clear and accurate doctrinal statements?"\

No...

Expanding on Nate's enigmatic "No," I take it Nate would say something like: "We have no justifiable expectation of clear or accurate doctrinal statements in LDS curriculum manuals."

The reasons I would argue that we do is that manuals are very carefully reviewed by "Correlation" and, I believe, by some supervising GA committee, which lends some legitimacy to the statements made. Furthermore, there is no official LDS catechism or index of binding doctrinal pronouncements to consult--one can't even look up the text of First Presidency letters that are read over the pulpit several times each year! So while it may initially sound like an odd claim, I'd argue that LDS class manuals are the best available source of officially reviewed and approved doctrinal statements from senior LDS leaders. [Conference talks are far too general to serve that purpose.] Of course I recognize manuals aren't intended as binding pronouncements of LDS doctrine or textual interpretation. But the review process does, I think, provide the basis for thinking most statements are accurate and sincere. Is there a better alternative source for such statements that someone can suggest?

While I would tend to agree with Nate, it certainly begs the question, "Well, then, to what source do we look for doctrinal statements?" I think one of the points of this topic is that the Church tries to have it both ways, by insisting that it teaches truth, but having a back door just in case something it taught as a truth turns out to be not true. So, while I do agree with Nate that it's not fair to completely hold the Church curriculum manuals as doctrine, I would add that it's equally unfair of the Church to expect its members allegiance and loyalty without giving them a concrete footing or source to resolve their questions.

As to the fact that this question comes out of a class on Book of Mormon history/ancestry, I think the church's policy is extremely unfair given the MILLIONS of converts in Central and Latin America who are taught that they are the literal descendants of Lehi. While the Church may not currently have to take a side (and that's up to debate, given GA comments to Latin American members), I can say that many 'Representatives of Jesus Christ and His true church' (missionaries in those countries) have no qualms about implying BofM passages to the investigator. ("Sister Gonzalez, would you like to blossom as the rose?" "Why of course." "Well, the promise is there for the taking!") That missionary tool(?) was common in my mission, and I used it a number of times on my mission until I realized I was being manipulative.

mike says: "if lehi was an ancestor of most natives in the americas then that definitely would have come out somewhere in the dna studies."

This is absolutely not true. Lehi lived maybe 100 generations ago. If you go back 100 generations on a pedegree chart, you have 2^100 slots, or about a trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion. Even if Lehi and friends fill up a few trillion-trillion of these slots for someone living today, it will likely be undetectable in their DNA.

If you drop Lehi's family into a population of, say, 10 million, then even with moderate intermixing levels, Lehi will become the ancestor of every person in the population within only 1000 years or so. But Lehi's genes will only make up around a 10-millionth of the genetic endowment of this population.

What SHOULD be detectable is if Lehi's party takes up a majority of those 2^100 slots in the pedigree chart.

I'll say it again: if Lehi was real and lived in the new world 2,600 years ago, then all American Indians have him as an ancestor. Just like all Europeans and Asians must have Alexander the Great as an ancestor.

oops...2^100 is only about one thousand-billion-billion-billion. Other than that I stand by what I wrote. (I shouldn't try to do these calculations in my head.)

Ed, the way DNA studies are done is to look for markers that would be present in say all female descendents or all male descents or so forth. So I think you're missing the way the DNA arguments are done.

The problematic issue for DNA studies is the genetic makeup of Lehi.

I realize that most DNA studies (so far) are done this way, but that just makes the argument stronger. It means that we are only looking at two of the 2^100 slots in the pedigree chart, the ones at the end of the matrilineal and patrilineal lines, so for all we know Lehi could be all over the place in the other slots.

My main point is that the LGH is completely irrelevant to the question of whether Lehi is an ancestor of most/all modern native americans, but only to whether he and his party are "principle ancestors." DNA research can speak only to the second question, not the first, and this would remain true even if we were given a sample of Lehi's fingernail clippings.

Dave, when was that manual published or last updated? If it was recently reissued in the last year or so, since the DNA controversy exploded, then you may be right that the manual is being purposely evasive--allowing a "hemispheric presumption" to exist while retaining plausible deniability.

But if the manual (or even that particular sentence) is older than that, the sentence in question would seem rather to suggest that, in fact, the hemispheric presumption has *not* been as widespread and standard in the church as DNA critics insist it has been. Skeptics complain that the LGH (I like your acronym) is a recent jerry-rigged solution that apologists have devised--but if this sentence from the manual predates the DNA controversy, that complaint would appear to be at least partially unjustified. (I personally was never taught the hemispheric presumption as doctrine, so I'm naturally a little skeptical of the skeptics charges.)

Has anyone picked up the new Random House BoM? What does its introduction say about the Lamanites-Indians? Does it say "principal ancestors" as does the official BoM, or something more nuanced?

I've looked at the new edition of the BoM in a bookstore (the book is a lot smaller than I envisioned). It simply reprints the 1981 introduction.

That's unfortunate, but understandable.

It's interesting that there have been rumors of a new edition of the scriptures for more than a decade now. There are quite a few good reasons to do so. (i.e. various problems with footnotes, problems with chapter heads, having a Bible dictionary that covers the D&C and BoM, the introduction, etc.) There have also been various rumors of new texts to be added to either the D&C or PoGP.

I still think they ought to do it. But I confess my main reasoning is that I really hate the way verses are formatted. I'd like to see what some Bibles do and put the verse numbers off in the margins and make the text more paragraph oriented. I think that would significantly cut down on naive proof texting as well.

Off topic about the Doubleday Book of Mormon:

I’ve just bought the Doubleday edition. It appears to contain the complete text of the missionary edition (I haven’t compared it yet), plus what they call a “Reference Guide to the Book of Mormon, that constitutes a 6 page references to key ideas organized by four topics; namely, Jesus Christ, People, Doctrines, and Events and Places (in that order). Entries under “Jesus Christ” include “Appearance and Ministry to the Inhabitants of the Americas,” and “Birth and Death.”

It’s a very nice little book—Nicely printed and laid out. After reading it for a few days, it strikes me as much better for reading than the standard layout. The text is 570 plus pages (to give you an idea of the scale—as opposed to the standard version—the pronunciation guide is 5 pages long). The text is set in two columns with no separating line in the middle with no footnotes. Year indicators are moved to the chapter headings and appear to be indicated only when a change in year is appropriate.

Verse text is fully justified with no indentation. Verse number are in bold with no period, with more than one m-space separating it from the text. Chapter headings and synopses are center justified with the synopses in italics.

The cover is gold tinted parchment colored against a gold background, appearing to play up the “golden-bible” or “golden plates” concept.

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