More than 25 years ago, LDS apostle Bruce R. McKonkie wrote a succinct and informative introduction that was added to 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. This introduction included a phrase that, at the time, reflected the thinking of most Latter-day Saints. In describing the people of the Book of Mormon, he wrote: “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”
The new version, which first appeared in the Doubleday version of the book, reads: “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”
Click here to read the Salt Lake Tribune article on the subject.
I like the revised introduction because it echoes my own belief that the Nephites, Lamanites and Jaredites were not the only ones living on the American continent thousands of years ago. In fact, I subscribe to the view of a “limited geography” in which people descended from Lehi were one group among many, mostly those who migrated across the Bering Strait.
Like many LDS people, I have had to revise my traditional thinking on this subject because of recent DNA research that suggests American Indians most likely descended from Asian ancestors. Of course, the evidence certainly has not convinced me that Lehi’s family did not exist. It has simply shifted my view of the ancient American world.
Much debate has occurred and will likely continue over the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Critics would say that the lack of evidence to support the book’s narrative or the numerous anacronisms (i.e. horses, breastplates, etc.), along with the DNA research, proves that it’s a work of fiction. Apologists from FARMS and FAIR give a variety of evidences in favor of the book’s historicity such as chaisms, Native American folklore that seems to relate to Book of Mormon references, etc. I find the whole discussion fascinating since I am a passionate student of “Mormon studies.”
However, despite arguments for and against, I do know that the book has brought me closer to Christ. It has made me want to be a better person. It has converted me to the teachings of the Savior and for that I am grateful. I do believe that the Book of Mormon was brought about by the power of God. I have had a spiritual witness of that truth, confirmed to be by the power of the Holy Ghost in answer to my prayers. I have put Moroni’s challenge to the test, and have found great peace as the quiet answer has come.