Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Book of Mormon, history, New World, Bible, spirtiual witnesses


THE BooK OF MORMON presented itself as a history of previously unidentified New World civilizations with origins in the ancient Near East. To defend its claims of historicity, believers pointed to the work's correspondence with the Bible and their own spiritual witnesses. They also insisted that, independent of their supernatural access to this ancient world, archaeological discoveries had authenticated and would continue to authenticate the book's historical claims. This article documents the all-but-forgotten Latter-day Saint use of Codex Boturini-a sixteenth-century Mesoamerican codex depicting the Mexica (i.e., Aztec) migration from their mythical homeland Atzlan to Tenochtitlan, the seat of the empire's government-as physical evidence for Book of Mormon history. In the perspective of these Saints, the pictorial manuscript was an independent record of the Book of Mormon. For decades, Mormons published images from Codex Boturini (or described them) alongside commentary that translated the pictographs through a Mormon lens.