Paul R. Cheesman

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Paul Robert Cheesman (May 31, 1921 – November 13, 1991) was an American archeologist and a professor of religion at Brigham Young University (BYU).

Biography[edit]

Cheesman was born in Brigham City, Utah and was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). His parents died while he was still young and he oversaw his own education. He received a degree in education from San Diego State University. In California, he was also a public school teacher, and he later worked as a seminary teacher for the LDS Church.[1] During the Korean War, he served as a chaplain in the United States military. In 1944, he married Millie Foster, with whom he had six children.[2]

Later, as president of the Foster Corporation, Cheesman was heavily involved in Central America, where he developed a collection and strong interest in pre-Columbian archaeology.[2]

Cheesman taught in BYU's Department of Religious Education from 1963 to 1986. He received his master's degree in 1965[3] and doctorate in 1967,[1] both in Religious Education at BYU. For a time, he served as director of scripture studies[4] and director of Book of Mormon studies[5] in BYU's Religious Studies Center. Cheesman was known for research of correlations between the Book of Mormon and pre-Columbian American discoveries.[6] His stated desire was to promote Latter-day Saint faith:

Archaeological evidences which support The Book of Mormon do not convert, but we would hope that these thought-provoking discoveries might inspire and excite the reader to the point where they would want to study The Book of Mormon with real intent and gain a testimony of its truth.[7]

After retiring, Cheesman and his wife moved to St. George, Utah.[8]

Cheesman served in various callings in the LDS Church. He served as a Bishop, District president, twice as Stake president,[9] and as president of the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission from 1980 to 1983. After retiring from BYU, he was director of the church's New York Visitors Center. In New York, Cheesman suffered a massive heart attack and returned to Utah for surgery, when he died in 1991.[10]

Criticism[edit]

Cheesman's book Ancient American Indians: Their Origins, Civilizations and Old World Connections has been criticized as a poor work of scholarship, most especially by such men as Martin H. Raish and John L. Sorenson who also believe that the Book of Mormon is an ancient work and thus feel that such shoddy scholarship hurts more than it helps a true understanding of the book.[11] William J. Hamblin has said of a 1985 work by Cheesman on ancient writing on gold plates that it should be "used with caution".[12]

Publications[edit]

Cheesman's most recognized publications are about ancient America's relationship to the Book of Mormon. His master's thesis was notable for bringing to light the previously unknown 1832 account of the First Vision, Joseph Smith's first recorded account that dates to 1832.

Illustrated books[edit]

  • Cheesman, Paul R.; Heimdal, Stuart; Jacobs, Raymond H.; Larson, Clinton F.; Revill, Joseph N. (1967–72). Illustrated Stories From the Book of Mormon. [16 vols.] Salt Lake City, Utah: Promised Land Publications. 
  • ——; Cheesman, Millie Foster; Heimdal, Stuart (1970). Great Leaders of the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, Utah: Promised Land Publications. 
  • ——; Patch, Robert C.; Heimdal, Stuart (1972). Illustrated Stories About the New Testament. [16 vols.] Salt Lake City, Utah: Promised Land Publications. 
  • —— (1972). Early America and the Book of Mormon: A Photographic Essay of Ancient America. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. ISBN 978-0-87747-470-8. 
  • ——; Larry C. Porter; Vernon Murdock; Stuart Heimdal; LaMar C. Berrett; Billings Brown (1973). Illustrated Stories From Church History. [16 vols.] Provo, Utah: Promised Land Publications. 
  • ——; Hudson, Blaine T. (1978). Book of Mormon Lands: A Photographic Essay. Salt Lake City, Utah: Blaine Hudson Printing. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cheesman, Paul R.; Griggs, C. Wilfred, eds. (1984). Scriptures for the Modern World. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, BYU. p. 141. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  2. ^ a b BYU library electronic catalog entry for "Paul R. Cheesman [electronic resource]" (2004)
  3. ^ Cheesman, Paul R. (1965). An Analysis of the Accounts Relating Joseph Smith's Early Visions. [master's thesis]. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  4. ^ Cheesman, Paul R. (October 1979). "Ancient Writing on Metal Plates". Ensign. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  5. ^ Cheesman, Paul R.; Griggs, C. Wilfred, eds. (1984). Scriptures for the Modern World. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, BYU. p. vi. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  6. ^ "Research and Perspectives: Recent Studies on the Book of Mormon". Ensign. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. June 1989. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Thor Heyerdahal's voyages support Book of Mormon, he tells professor". Church News. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News. April 29, 1989. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  9. ^ "New directors called to head 15 visitors centers". Church News. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News. February 2, 1991. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  10. ^ "Church News: Death". Church News. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News. November 16, 1991. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  11. ^ Raish, Martin H. (1992). "Ancient American Indians: Their Origins, Civilizations and Old World Connections". FARMS Review. Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies. 4 (1). Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  12. ^ "Sacred Writing on Metal Plates in the Ancient Mediterranean". In FARMS Review, Vol. 19, Issue 1, note 10

External links[edit]