Book of Mormon Authorship: Unique phrases of various Prophets

[UPDATE: The first phrase “the eye of God,” which I argued was unique to the prophet Jacob (2 Nephi 9:44/Jacob 2:10/Jacob 2:15), is not unique to him but is also found in Mosiah 27:31. This unique phrase has been replaced with another unique phrase from the Prophet Zenos]

Much has been written about Book of Mormon authorship, trying to answer questions such as “Did Joseph Smith write it?” “Did Joseph Smith have help?” “Did other authors write it?” Some of these questions have been examined using wordprint analyses to determine who authored the Book of Mormon (see https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_Mormon/Wordprint_studies for a summary of findings). While wordprint studies are out of my expertise and ability, there are interesting idioms found in many of the Book of Mormon prophets’ words that may contribute support to the belief that it is unlikely that Joseph Smith paid such amount to detail as to create individual writing styles for each of the characters in the Book of Mormon. The following are some examples of phrases that are unique to individual Book of Mormon prophets:

  1. In the midst of thy congregations = Unique to the prophet Zenos

The prophet Zenos is quoted on at least three occasions in the Book of Mormon and the style of each citation seems to be significantly different than the writings of other Book of Mormon prophets. In this situation, the prophet Zenos uses the following phrase:

  • “Yea, O God, thou hast been merciful unto me, and heard my cries in the midst of thy congregations” (Alma 33:9)

The word “congregation” is only found in one other instance in the Book of Mormon in the “Isaiah Chapters” (2 Nephi 24:13/Isaiah 14) and is only found in the New Testament once (Acts 13:43). The word shows up 333 times in the Old Testament, and the same phrase “midst of the congregation” is found several times (Numbers 16:47/Psalm 22:22/Proverbs 5:14). It is interesting that this phrase is only found in the Book of Mormon in the writings of the prophet Zenos, who is believed to have lived many years before Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, which language is consistent with Old Testament vernacular.

2. Turn their hearts aside = Unique to the prophet Zenos

This is an interesting idiom because similar renditions are sparsely found in the Old Testament (see 1 Samuel 12:20-21) but none are found in the New Testament or any other Book of Mormon prophets. Adding to the uniqueness of this phrase is that it fits well with the Book of Mormon timeline which puts Zenos’ writings before 500 B.C. and possibly before the writings of Isaiah. The Book of Mormon prophets typically use the phrase “harden their hearts.”

  • “they crucify the God of Israel, and turn their hearts aside, rejecting signs and wonders” (1 Nephi 19:13)
  • “And because they turn their hearts aside, saith the prophet, and have despised the Holy One of Israel” (1 Nephi 19:14)
  • “no more turn their hearts against the Holy One of Israel” (1 Nephi 19:15)

3. Great Creator = Unique to the prophet Jacob

The word “Creator” is used 10 times in the Book of Mormon, and only twice in the New Testament and three times in the Old Testament. Only the prophet Jacob puts the qualifier “great” before stating “creator.” While this by itself is not particularly miraculous, it is very interesting that it appears in Jacob’s writings in 2 Nephi 9 and thirty pages later in Jacob 2. Not only is it unique to Jacob, but it is unique across time in his writings and in Joseph Smith’s translation process.

  • “for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh” (2 Nephi 9:5)
  • “to fulfill the merciful plan of the great Creator” (2 Nephi 9:6)
  • “how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator?” (Jacob 3:7)

4. The Lord Omnipotent = Unique to King Benjamin

When King Benjamin asks his people to make a covenant to take upon them the name of Christ, both he and his people refer to Christ as the “Lord Omnipotent.” The word “omnipotent” occurs 6 times in the Book of Mormon, all of them contained in the discourse of King Benjamin, and only once in all other scriptures (Revelation 19:6, “the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth”).

  • “with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity” (Mosiah 3:5)
  • “only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17)
  • “through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18)
  • “only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:21)
  • “because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 5:2)
  • “that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his” (Mosiah 5:15)

5. The Great God = Unique to King Anti-Nephi-Lehi

There are many occasions in the Old and New Testaments where the phrase “great God” is used (Psalm 95:3/Titus 2:13), but it is only used in the Book of Mormon by King Anti-Nephi-Lehi in an address to his people asking them to make a covenant to bury their weapons of war. There are only two other similar iterations of this phrase in the Book of Mormon (Helaman 12:8: “great and everlasting God”/Helaman 13:18 “great and true God”), but interestingly one of them is also made by a Lamanite, and the other by Mormon, who was about to write about Samuel the Lamanite one chapter later. It is my opinion that King Anti-Nephi-Lehi refers to “the great God” because of the Lamanite belief in the existence of a  “Great Spirit,” which they learn is the “great God” when Ammon preaches to Kin Lamoni (Alma 18:24-29).

  • “I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren” (Alma 24:7)
  • “And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit” (Alma 24:8)
  • “And I also thank my God, yea, my great God” (Alma 24:10)
  • “through the blood of the Son of our great God” (Alma 24:13)
  • “And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us” (Alma 24:14)

6. The Lord of Hosts = The Lord warning his people of destruction

The phrase “Lord of Hosts” never appears in the New Testament but is found frequently in the Old Testament. In the Book of Mormon, the phrase “Lord of Hosts” appears when it is quoting sections of the Old Testament or in the following cases of unique citations of the Lord found in Helaman, Jacob, and briefly in 2 Nephi. It is not found in any of the Book of Mormon prophet’s writings unless they are quoting God.

2 Nephi = Prophecies of the death of Christ

“the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts” (2 Nephi 26:5)

“the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts” (2 Nephi 26:6)

“if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Host” (2 Nephi 28:17)

Helaman 13:8-21 = Samuel the Lamanite calling the Nephites to repentance

“And behold, a curse shall come upon the land, saith the Lord of Hosts, because of the people’s sake who are upon the land” (Helaman 13:17)

“And it shall come to pass, saith the Lord of Hosts, yea, our great and true God” (Helaman 13:18)

“and then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Helaman 13:32)

Jacob 2:23-33 = Jacob calling the Nephites to repentance

“And whoredoms are an abomination before me; saith the Lord of Hosts” (Jacob 2:28)

“Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes” (Jacob 2:29)

“For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people” (Jacob 2:30)

“And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Jacob 2:32)

“even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredomes, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Jacob 2:33)

 

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