A Note on Akish

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve found the exchanges between Philip Jenkins and William Hamblin to be highly entertaining. All along, Jenkins has consistently requested that Hamblin provide evidence that the peoples described in the Book of Mormon actually lived in Precolumbian America. Dr. Jenkins has already responded to Dr. Hamblin’s suggestion that the similar-sounding 7th-century AD Maya inscription (U-Kix) and roughly 1500-2000 BC Jaredite Akish are “as good [a connection] as we can expect to find.  It represents the existence in a Mesoamerican inscription of a Book of Mormon king with broad parallels in name, date, title and function.” (See Hamblin 25: U-Kix/Akish)

Hamblin goes on to explain these “broad parallels”:

1- Chronology: Akish was a Jaredite.  Although there is insufficient data to precisely establish Jaredite chronology, it is clear he lived in the early Preclassic/Formative period (1800 BCE – 400 BCE)

2- Name: Akish is broadly homophonous with U-Kix Kan (phonetically wa-kish, oo-kish, or uh-kish).  (The Kan/Chan suffix means “serpent” and is probably a title.  Maya kings frequently took titles of Kan/Chan/serpent, Balam/jaguar or predatory birds.)  Given the well known phenomena of the change of pronunciation of proper names through time and between cultures, the Maya U-Kish is a close homophonic match to the Book of Mormon Akish some 1500 years earlier. 

3- Title: both men were kings.  

4- Function: both men were founders of a new dynastic line (Ether 9:6).

Dr. Jenkins has already dealt with 1-3, but 4 is just plain wrong. As I’ll explain, in no way can Akish be said to be the founder of a new dynastic line.

Let’s look at what the Book of Mormon tells us. The story is typically convoluted, like the rest of the Book of Mormon, but it goes something like this:

  1. Omer is a righteous king, but his unrighteous son, Jared, overthrows Omer and imprisons him. (Ether 8:2-4)
  2. Jared is then defeated by his brothers, and Omer regains the throne, but spares Jared’s life. (Ether 8:6)
  3. Jared’s daughter is angry, so she “dances before [Jared] that she pleased him” and Jared promises Akish his daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for Akish bringing him the head of King Omer (sound vaguely familiar?).
  4. Omer, warned in a dream, flees with his supporters, and Jared becomes the king. (Ether 8:9-14;9:1-4)
  5. Akish then murders Jared and takes the kingdom for himself. (Ether 9:5-6)
  6. Akish’s sons then try to overthrow him, and they fight it out for many years, until there are only 30 people left, plus those who fled with Omer. (Ether 9:7-12)
  7. Omer is then returned to his throne, and in his old age, he passes the kingdom to his son, Emer, who is first in a succession of righteous kings. (Ether 9:13ff)

So, in short, Akish’s dynastic line consists of only Akish himself, and the original (Omeric, we might say) dynastic line is restored. Thus, not only is Hamblin playing fast and loose with real archaeology, but he’s misleading Jenkins and other readers about what the text of the Book of Mormon actually says. He probably thinks he can get away with this because Jenkins won’t read a damn thing!

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2 Responses to A Note on Akish

  1. Bob says:

    Looks like Hamblin updated his post since you wrote this (how convenient of him). The note says the pronunciation is not as Hamblin indicated and thus the entire claim is moot.

    • runtu says:

      The funny thing is that he said it was probably moot and then brought it up again as evidence with Jenkins. Very strange. Anyway, if this is the best they can come up with …

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