Friday, June 10, 2016

Unpublished Book by John L. Sorenson Now Available Online

Whether critics of the LDS faith know it or not, John L. Sorenson’s work on transoceanic voyaging in pre-Columbian times has garnered considerable respect among at least some non-LDS scholars. His publications on the subject span across six decades, and appear in a variety of peer-reviewed and academic publications, such as El México Antigo, New England Antiquities Research Association Newsletter, Man Across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts (published by the University of Texas Press), Contact and Exchange in the Ancient World (published by the University of Hawai’i), and Sino-Platonic Papers (published by the University of Pennsylvania).

He has co-published a 2-volume annotated bibliography of the literature on pre-Columbian contacts, which received some positive reviews. He also co-wrote (with a non-Mormon scholar) World Trade and Biological Exchange before 1492, detailing all the biological evidence for transoceanic contact before Columbus. In a letter thanking Sorenson for a copy of this work, Michael D. Coe declared, “So much of this evidence, I think, is irrefutable.”

With the above in mind, I thought it was worthwhile to point out that a heretofore unpublished book by Sorenson, called Transoceanic Voyaging: How Ancient America Became Civilized (2013) is available in Book of Mormon Central’s archive. Here, Sorenson attempts to use the evidence he has compiled in his previous work (namely, World Trade and Biological Exchange before 1492) to reconstruct a history of transoceanic contacts between the Old and New Worlds.

The conclusions reached are bound to be controversial, and I am not necessarily endorsing all of Sorenson’s views. But given Sorenson’s status as one of the leading scholars on pre-Columbian contacts, it is bound to contribute to the conversation in some important ways. I thus thought it worth drawing attention to this little known item in the Book of Mormon Central archive.