Dr. Nibley

By By [email protected]

By [email protected]

Roger Carrier 795 Savannah DriveSandy, Utah 84094Tel: 571-2641Cel: 699-2165Email: [email protected] of U graduate 1969, U of U masters, 1974

Dear Editor, I was sorry to read about the troubles in BYU Professor Hugh Nibley’s family (Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 5). Our common humanity requires that our hearts go out to the people involved. Dr. Nibley’s daughter (and I don’t believe all her charges) said that most of the footnotes in her father’s books were “made up.” Since I have attempted to verify a large number of his sources (and own many of the originals, in fact), I would say that the sources do exist but they are either misquoted or misrepresented. I can’t list all of the false citations-there are too many. But perhaps one example will suffice to illustrate the problem with his footnotes. In his book An Approach to the Book of Mormon (p. 371), Dr. Nibley quoted an authoritative source as saying, “archaeologists are always confusing” certain ruins in England. The article actually says that “the public” often confuses these ruins, and then it goes on to give examples of how archaeologists distinguish one ruin from another. In other words, the article actually refutes Dr. Nibley’s theory of the vanishing Nephites, who, he says, lived in “quickly-built wooden cities” (p. 370). Dr. Nibley’s quickly-disappearing cities and other claims are sometimes bizarre-that there were no bees in ancient America because they are not mentioned in that period of the Book of Mormon (Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites (p. 189). Bees, of course, are important for the pollination of flowering plants the world over, and the stingless American bee was, in fact, one of the few domesticated “animals” possessed by the cultures of ancient America, where there were no common barnyard animals, such as horses, cows, sheep, pigs, or chickens. Regrettably Dr. Nibley became not a master scholar but a master of intellectual massage. Using the lotion of unrelated citations spanning hundreds of years and containing facts, errors, and misrepresentations mixed with clever word games involving multiple languages, he became the feel-good author for educated Mormons. Yet, with so many learned men and women at BYU, there should have been someone waving some cautionary flags about Dr. Nibley’s faulty lines of reasoning and misuse of his sources. Sometimes in an overwhelming desire to “prove” matters of faith, a person can loose sight of his goal as an historian–to seek the truth. Lying for the Lord does not build up any religion and cannot be part of the methodology of anyone seeking the truth.

Roger Carrier