John L. Sorenson

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John L. Sorenson was an emeritus professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University. He is best known for his work on the Book of Mormon and archaeology.

He holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. While he pursued his master’s degree in archaeology from BYU, he did his first archaeological work in Mesoamerica. From January until June 1953 he was involved in the New World Archaeological Foundation’s initial fieldwork in the state of Tabasco in Mexico. He also holds a master’s degree in meteorology from Caltech.

Sorenson began teaching at BYU in 1963. While at BYU, he established the anthropology department (in 1958), served as editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. He retired in 1986, but continued his association with BYU until 2008 through his research and writing on ancient American civilization and the Book of Mormon in connection with FARMS. He also worked for five years as a social scientist at a think tank in Santa Barbara, California.

He was born in Smithfield, Utah, on April 8, 1924. He began electrical engineering studies at Utah State Agricultural College three months before the bombing at Pearl Harbor. He soon started Army Air Corps training as a weather forecaster, then served in Brazil, and left the service in 1946 as a First Lieutenant. He was 22 years old. He then served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Zealand.

Some of his 200 authored or coauthored books and articles include Mormon's Codex: An Ancient American Book (2013), Mormon’s Map (2000), Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life (1998), An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (1985), Transoceanic Culture Contacts between the Old and New Worlds in Pre-Columbian Times: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography (with Martin Raish, 1988), and World Trade and Biological Exchanges before 1492 (with Carl L. Johannessen, 2004). Mormons, Scripture, and the Ancient World: Studies in Honor of John L. Sorenson was published in 1998.

He is the father of eight sons and has one adopted daughter with his first wife Kathryn Richards. After her passing in 1991, he married Helen Lance Christianson. He passed away on December 8, 2021.