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Journey of Faith: New World Bios

Jump to a Scholar’s Biography:

Alfonso Morales Cleveland | Alejandro Sarabia Gonzalez | Kim C. Goldsmith | S. Kent Brown | Donald W. Forsyth | Camille Fronk Olson | Brant Gardner | John Gee | William J. Hamblin | Ron A. Harris | Paul Y. Hoskisson | David J. Johnson | Peter Johnson | Bart J. KowallisAnn N. Madsen | Wade E. Miller | V. Garth Norman | Alan K. Parrish | Virginia H. Pearce | Daniel C. Peterson | Michael J. Preece | John S. Robertson | Matthew Roper | Andrew C. Skinner | Brian D. Stubbs | John L. Sorenson | Gaye Strathearn | John S. TannerGrace A. H. Vlam | John W. Welch | Diane E. Wirth | Mark Alan Wright |

alfonso morales cleveland mormonAlfonso Morales Cleveland

Alfonso is an archaeologist, director, and principal investigator of the Palenque Cross Group Project at Palenque, Mexico. The project is a joint venture of the Pre-Columbian Art Research (PARI) and Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH).


Alejandro Sarabia Gonzalez mormonAlejandro Sarabia Gonzalez

Alejandro is the director of the museum at Teotihuacan, Mexico. He is head of the excavations of the sealed cavern under the great pyramid at Teotihuacan.



kim c goldsmith mormonKim C. Goldsmith

Kim is an archaeologist working for Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia at San Juan Teotihuacan. She is a clay figurine expert. She has been working as an archaeologist in Mexico for more than 30 years.



s-kent-brown mormonS. Kent Brown

S. Kent Brown recently retired as a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is the current associate director of the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in charge of academics. He previously served as the director of the BYU Jerusalem Center from 1993 to 1996. His degrees include a B.A. in 1967 from the University of California at Berkeley in classical Greek, with a minor in Near Eastern languages and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Brown University in 1972 with an emphasis in New Testament and early Christian studies.

donald forsyth mormonDonald W. Forsyth

Donald is a professor of anthropology and director of the New World Archaeological Foundation at Brigham Young University. He earned his PhD in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. He has vast excavation, archaeological survey, and laboratory experience in Utah, Texas, Mexico, and Guatemala.


camille-fronk-olson mormonCamille Fronk Olson

Camille is a professor of ancient scripture and dean of the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. She earned a masters degree in Near Eastern Studies and a PhD in Sociology-Middle East from BYU, with an emphasis on Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Her current research and scholarly pursuits focus on LDS doctrine, women of the Bible, and interfaith dialogue.

brant gardner mormonBrant Gardner

Brant is the author of Second Witness: An Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon and The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon. He received his MS from the State University of New York (Albany) where he also completed course work toward a PhD in Mesoamerican ethnohistory.


john gee mormonJohn Gee

John earned a PhD in Egyptology from Yale University. He is a senior research fellow and the William “Bill” Gay Professor of Egyptology at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He is the author of numerous articles on Egyptology and has edited several books and journals.


william-hamblin mormonWilliam J. Hamblin

William received his PhD in history from the University of Michigan. He is a professor of Middle Eastern history at Brigham Young University and has served several times at the BYU Jerusalem Center. His latest books are Warfare in the Ancient Near East (Routledge, 2006) and, with David Seely, Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History (Thames and Hudson, 2007).


Ron Harris mormonRon A. Harris

Ron received his PhD in tectonics from the University College in London. He also received his master’s in geophysics from the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska. In addition to his present position as professor of geology at Brigham Young University, he has been a visiting professor in Taiwan and Indonesia and geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. Professor Harris is the founding director of “In Harm’s Way,” which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to natural disaster prevention. His wife is Deborah Condie, who is a professional archeologist. They are the parents of four sons and have four grandchildren.

paul-hoskisson mormonPaul Y. Hoskisson

Paul is a professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University (BYU), where he formerly served as associate dean of Religious Education and currently directs the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, located within the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He has also served as an institutional representative on the Board of Trustees of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Professor Hoskisson was born in Illinois, grew up in six different states, and graduated from Provo High School. After serving a mission to Austria, he earned a master’s degree from Brigham Young University with a thesis on a Yiddish play, and then earned a PhD in Mediterranean Studies from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, writing his dissertation on an Old Babylonian topic. While still in graduate school, he worked at the universities of Tübingen, Germany, and Zürich, Switzerland. His interests focus on Semitic philology and onomastics, as well as on the Latter-day Saint scriptural canon.

david johnson mormonDavid J. Johnson

David is associate professor of archaeology at Brigham Young University. He earned his PhD at the University of Utah. The main focus of his research is on the cultures associated with the Red Sea area and their involvement in long distance trade from the earliest period through the Islamic period. He is currently the director of the Wadi Mataha Project in Petra, Jordan and works at Khor Mughsayl in Oman. His wife, Rebekah, is a violinist with the Utah Symphony.

PeterNJohnson mormonPeter Johnson

Peter is a motion picture writer, producer, and director who spent the first half of his career working in the film industry in Hollywood and the other half directing the BYU Motion Picture Studio and making films for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Between heaven and Earth, The Mountain of the Lord, and the popular On Sacred Ground: Reflections on Joseph Smith by Truman G. Madsen are three of his many Church films. His PBS feature, A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation won national awards, including a regional Emmy. He is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and is currently a freelance filmmaker. He and his wife, Ann, are parents of four children.

bart-kowallis mormonBart J. Kowallis

Bart J. Kowallis, professor of geology at Brigham Young University, performed his undergraduate degree at BYU and then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. He teaches classes in Physical Geology, Structural Geology, Field Geology, and Physical Science at Brigham Young University where he has worked for over 25 years. His research and publications focus on geochronology, stratigraphy, and structural geology, particularly of the Mesozoic rocks in Utah. Since 2001, Professor Kowallis and his students have mapped along the south and north flanks of the Uinta Mountains in cooperation with the Utah Geological Survey and United States Geological Survey. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and was honored in 1986 with an Alcuin General Education Teaching Award and in 2003 with a Karl G. Maeser General Education Professorship, both from Brigham Young University.

ann madsen mormonAnn N. Madsen

Ann, an Isaiah scholar and poet, teaches Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. She received her MA degree from BYU in ancient studies with a minor in Hebrew. At present she serves on the Sunday School general board of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has published a DVD entitled Opening Isaiah. She and her husband, Truman, have three children and a Navajo foster son, 16 grandchildren and, at the moment, 25 great-grandchildren.

wade-miller mormonWade E. Miller

Wade earned his MS in geology from the University of Arizona and his PhD in paleontology from the University of California at Berkeley. He is an emeritus professor of geology and paleontology at Brigham Young University. He is currently active on a number of field projects in the western United States and Mexico.


garth norman mormonV. Garth Norman

V. Garth Norman is an archaeologist, archaeo-astronomer, epigrapher, and art historian with graduate degrees in ancient studies and archaeology/anthropology from Brigham Young University. He is president of the Ancient American Foundation and director for Archaeological Research Consultants (ARCON Inc.). Norman’s publications on his research of the ancient Izapa Temple Center in Southern Mexico (which dates to the Nephite time period 400 BC–200 AD) include: BYU New World Archaeological Foundation Izapa Sculpture Album (1973) and Izapa Sculpture Text (1976), “Astronomical Orientations of Izapa Sculptures” (BYU thesis, 1980), Izapa-Ancient Temple Center: A Self-Guided Tour (2010) and Izapa Sacred Space: Sculpture Calendar Codex (2012) which includes data showing later migrations from Izapa, Mexico (located at the strategic 15 degrees north latitude) to Nazca, Peru, South America (15 degrees south latitude). He discovered the same Izapa calendar in the Southwest U.S. in petroglyphs and astronomy at the Parowan Gap, Utah (The Parowan Gap, Nature’s Perfect Observatory, 2007). He has lectured widely including the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City on the “Origin of the Maya Calendar at Izapa” (August 17, 2012). Norman has participated in contract archaeology for the LDS Church Historic Sites Restoration, including excavations at Kirtland, Ohio. He published his Book of Mormon Mesoamerican Geography: History Study Map in 2005 as a result of his history study of the Book of Mormon and his many years of research on ancient high civilizations in Mesoamerica that date to Book of Mormon times.

alan-parrish mormonAlan K. Parrish

Alan is an emeritus professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, received his EdD from theUniversity of Southern California. He also received his BS and MBA, both from Utah State University. Prior to his 27 years of teaching at BYU, he taught and directed the Institute of Religion programs at UCLA and Harvard for 15 years. He has written books and articles related to the doctrine, teachings, and history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most notably a biography of John A. Widtsoe. He is currently completing a book on the history of investigating, interpreting, and promoting external evidences of the Book of Mormon. He and his wife, Marcia, have three children.

virginia-pearce mormonVirginia H. Pearce

Virginia Hinckley Pearce is an author and was a member of the general presidency of the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1992 to 1997. Pearce is the daughter of Gordon B. Hinckley, the fifteenth President of the Church. Virginia Pearce was called as the first counselor to Young Women general president Janette C. Hales of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sister Pearce served in this capacity until 1997, when Janette Hales was released and replaced by Margaret D. Nadauld. Sister Pearce is also a member of the board of directors of Deseret Book, a company owned by the LDS Church. Additionally, she is the author of two books for adults and the co-author of four children’s books. She married James R. M. Pearce in 1965 and is the mother of six children.

daniel-peterson mormonDaniel C. Peterson

Daniel C. Peterson, a native of southern California, received a bachelor’s degree in Greek and philosophy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and, after several years of study in Jerusalem and Cairo, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU, where he teaches Arabic language and literature at all levels, Islamic philosophy, Islamic culture and civilization, Islamic religion, the Qur’an, the introductory and senior “capstone” courses for Middle Eastern Studies majors, and various other occasional, specialized classes. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Islamic and Latter-day Saint topics— including a biography entitled Muhammad: Prophet of God (Eerdmans, 2007)—and has lectured across the United States, in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and at various Islamic universities in the Near East and Asia.

michael preece mormonMichael J. Preece

Michael is a cardiologist and student of the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. He served as president of the London South Mission and was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He was a contributing author to BYU Studies and the FARMS Review of Books on the Book of Mormon.


john robertson mormonJohn S. Robertson

John earned his PhD in linguistics from Harvard University and specializes in the study of Mayan languages. He is an emeritus professor of linguistics at Brigham Young University.



Matt-Roper mormonMatthew Roper

Matthew is a research scholar for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He earned his MA at Brigham Young University.



andrew-skinner mormonAndrew C. Skinner

Andrew C. Skinner was born and raised in Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado where he earned his B.A. in history. He went on to earn an M.A. from the Iliff School of Theology in Jewish Studies and a Th.M. from Harvard in Biblical Hebrew. He performed graduate work at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His Ph.D. was awarded from the University of Denver in Near Eastern and European history, specializing in Judaism.

john sorenson mormonJohn L. Sorenson

John is professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in archaeology from BYU, a master’s degree in meteorology from the California Institute of Technology, and a PhD in anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles. Since his retirement from BYU in 1986, he has concentrated his research and writing in the area of Mesoamerican archaeology. He has published more than two hundred books and articles, including Images of Ancient America, Mormon’s Map, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, and the forthcoming Mormon’s Codex. He and his late wife, Kathryn, reared nine children. In 1993 he married Helen Lance Christianson, mother of nine.

gaye-strathearn mormonGaye Strathearn

Gaye was born and raised in Australia. She participated in the Jerusalem Study Abroad in fall 1987 and came to BYU as a student in 1989, earning a B.A. and M.A. in Near Eastern studies. She received her Ph.D. in New Testament at Claremont Graduate University.


brian-stubbs mormonBrian D. Stubbs

Brian is a linguist who teaches at the College of Eastern Utah and has studied scores of Native American languages, as well as Hebrew, Arabic, Egyptian, and Aramaic. He earned his MA in linguistics and completed coursework toward a PhD in Near Eastern languages and linguistics, both at the University of Utah.


john tanner mormonJohn S. Tanner

John received his bachelor’s degree in 1974 from Brigham Young University and began studies at the University of California at Berkeley where he received his Ph.D. in 1980. He has also been a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil. His scholarly work has focused on John Milton; his bookAnxiety in Eden received the Best Book Award from the Milton Society of America in 1992. He was formerly chair of the BYU English department and in 2004 he became the academic vice president of BYU.


grace vlam mormonGrace A. H. Vlam

Grace was born in The Netherlands, where she received her life-defining education in art, humanities and languages. She is now a retired professor of history of art, architecture, and humanities, with emphasis on Netherlandish, Baroque, New Eastern, and Oriental (including Islamic) art. She received a BA in art and education from Brigham Young University and an MA in art and art history from the University of Utah. She served as acting director and curator of the Salt Lake Art Center. Her PhD dissertation (1976) from the University of Michigan grew out of a double major on Western and Oriental art history, a year’s study travel in Japan, and out of her life’s experiences of living in Indonesia during the centuries-long connection of The Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies. Her interests and professional travels are global, and have expanded to include the field of archaeology with emphasis on Utah’s Anasazi culture (under auspices of the BYU Field School) and that of Mesoamerica. She has taught her areas of expertise at various institutions of higher learning, including Suny-Buffalo, and is now, in her retirement, independently continuing her professional research. She is a well-respected published scholar in Western and Oriental art. Additionally, she is a returned missionary of two full-time proselytizing missions to The Netherlands-Belgium and Scotland-Northern Ireland missions, and of two part-time missions to the New York Hill Cumorah Pageant and to Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Moreover, she is a life-long family history researcher and temple patron, working to integrate all her studies into one eternal round.

John W. Welch

John W. Welch is the Robert K. Thomas Professor of Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School. He is the founder of FARMS, editor-in-chief of BYU Studies, and a section officer in the Society of Biblical Literature. He teaches classes on Biblical Law, and Jewish, Greek, and Roman Laws in the New Testament. He was educated at BYU, Oxford, and Duke Universities. He is married to Jeannie Sutton, and they have four children and fourteen grandchildren. He has served twice as bishop, and once as counselor in a stake presidency. He has made a number of significant discoveries in scripture research, including chiasmus in the Book of Mormon and seeing the parable of the Good Samaritan as an allegory of the full plan of salvation.

diane wirth mormonDiane E. Wirth

Diane received a BA in art from Brigham Young University and studied at Harvard Post Graduate School in anthropology. She has concentrated her world travel on the ancient sites in Mexico, Central America, and the Middle East, and has studied their art, religion, and traditions. She is a writer and independent researcher specializing in art history and Mesoamerican iconography.


mark alan wright mormonMark Alan Wright

Mark earned his PhD in anthropology, with a subfield of specialization in Mesoamerican archaeology, from the University of California, Riverside. He is currently an assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University.

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