“The Father of Lamoni Who Was King over All the Land”

Alan C. Miner

It is worthy of note that the unique Mesoamerican political systems provide understanding of events in the Book of Mormon. One place where there is a clear consonance with Mesoamerican politics, and an equally clear dissonance with Joseph Smith's worldview, is found in the account of Ammon's missionary efforts among the Lamanites. In Alma 20 we have the converted king Lamoni accompanying Ammon on a visit to the king of the land of Middoni. On the way they meet Lamoni's father "who was king over all the land" (Alma 20:8). This situation is clearly foreign to the western European concept of kings. Kings might rule over lords, but we do not expect a king over kings. This concept is so engrained in our Western thinking that the title of King of Kings is immediately applied to Christ and to none other. Nevertheless, we have precisely this situation in Mesoamerica, most powerfully attested with the translation of the glyphs that outline the political over-lordship of such places as Tikal and Calakmul and many others. [Brant Gardner, "A Social History of the Early Nephites," delivered at the FAIR Conference, August 17, 2001, p. 10]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary