Comparing Motifs and Phrases in Alma 5 to the Bible

The following is a list of some of the motifs and phrases in Alma 5 that are found in the Bible. Some of these references are found in the LDS Topical Guide, but many are not. There are also many more Biblical references found in Alma 5 that are not included in this list. The number of specific references in Alma 5 to scriptures found across the Old and New Testament suggest that the author(s) of the Book of Mormon had an intimate knowledge of scriptural language beyond simply trying to mimic the KJV style of language.

1. “having been consecrated by my father, Alma, to be a high priest” (Alma 5:3)
“consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exodus 28:41)
2. “he having power and authority from God” (Alma 5:3)
“with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits” (Luke 4:36)
3. “by the power of his word” (Alma 5:5)
“upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3)
4. “he awakened them out of a deep sleep” (Alma 5:7)
“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead” (Ephesians 5:14)
5. “encircled about by the bands of death” (Alma 5:7)
“for there are no bands in their death” (Psalm 73:4)
“He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder” (Psalm 107:14)
6. “have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? (Alma 5:6)
“But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence” (Deuteronomy 24:18)
7. “the bands of death, and the chains of hell” (Alma 5:7)
“delivered them into chains of darkness” (2 Peter 2:4)
8. “and an everlasting destruction did await them” (Alma 5:7)
“who shall be punished with everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
9. “and their souls did expand” (Alma 5:9)
“when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32)
10. “what grounds had they to hope for salvation?” (Alma 5:10)
“and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
11. “put their trust in the true and living God’ (Alma 5:13)
“But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God” (Jeremiah 10:10)
12. “have ye spiritually been born of God” (Alma 5:14)
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:6)
13. “view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption” (Alma 5:15)
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53)
14. “Come unto me ye blessed” (Alma 5:16)
“Come, ye blessed of my Father” (Matthew 25:34)
15. “can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?” (Alma 5:19)
“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4)
16. “a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Alma 5:24)
“shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11)
17. “ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning” (Alma 5:25)
“he that believeth not God hath made him a liar” (1 John 5:10)
18. “they are the children of the kingdom of the devil” (Alma 5:25)
“thou child of the devil” (Acts 13:10)
19. “Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God?” (Alma 5:27)
“walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6)
20. “who will come to redeem his people from their sins?” (Alma 5:27)
“for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)
21. “he knoweth not when the time shall come” (Alma 5:29)
“ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42)
“for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew           25:13)
22. “wo unto all ye workers of iniquity” (Alma 5:32)
“thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalms 5:5)
23. “ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely” (Alma 5:34)
“And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17)
24. “ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire” (Alma 5:35)
“hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matthew 7:19)
25. “whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit” (Alma 5:36)
“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:19)
26. “have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd” (Alma 5:37)
“be not as sheep which have no shepherd” (Numbers 27:17)
“scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36)
27. “the good shepherd doth call you” (Alma 5:38)
“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11)
28. “yea, and in his own name he doth call you” (Alma 5:38)
“he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out” (John 10:3)
29. “whatsoever is good cometh from God” (Alma 5:40)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17)
30. “how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?” (Alma 5:45)
“Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel” (Acts 12:11)
31. “they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God” Alma 5:46)
“the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11)
32. “according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me” (Alma 5:47)
“the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10)
33. “the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth” (Alma 5:48)
“the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)
34. “both old and young, both bond and free” (Alma 5:49)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28)
35. “They must repent and be born again” (Alma 5:49)
“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7)
36. “the Son of God cometh in his glory, in his might, majesty, power, and dominion” (Alma 5:50)
“To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever” (Jude 1:25)
37. “the King of heaven shall very soon shine forth among all the children of men” (Alma 5:50)
“he shined forth from mount Paran” (Deuteronomy 33:2)
38. “ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 5:51)
“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10)
39. “the Spirit saith: Behold, the ax is laid at the root of the tree” (Alma 5:52)
“And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees” (Matthew 3:10)
40. “fire which cannot be consumed, even an unquenchable fire” (Alma 5:52)
“the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:17)
41. “the Holy One hath spoken it” (Alma 5:52)
“the Holy One of Israel is our king” (Psalm 89:18)
42. “and trample the Holy One under your feet” (Alma 5:53)
“lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6)
43. “having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Alma 5:54)
“being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:16)
44. “come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things” (Alma 5:57)
“all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen” (Ezra 6:21)
45. “behold, their names shall be blotted out” (Alma 5:57)
“blot out their name from under heaven” (Deuteronomy 9:14)
46. “For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life” (Alma 5:58)
“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous” (Psalm 69:28)
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15)
47. “unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand” (Alma 5:58)
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand…inherit the kingdom prepared for you…” (Matthew 25:34)
48. “he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep” (Alma 5:60)
“and will bring them again to their folds” (Jeremiah 23:3)

Some “textual errors” in the Book of Mormon also found in the Bible

The Book of Mormon is often criticized as being full of grammatical errors that have been changed over the years. What is rarely acknowledged, however, is that many of the “errors” are also found in the King James version of the Bible. The following compares changes made from the first edition of the Book of Mormon to the 1981 edition.

  1. An extra “for” which was deleted in later editions of the Book of Mormon

a. “and their precious things, for to perish in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:11)

b. “the daughters of the Lamanites did gather themselves together for to sing” (Mosiah 20:1)

c. “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:14)

d. “he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16)

e. “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him” (Luke 15:1)

f. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31) (See also Acts 8:27/11:2/12:25/15:6/16:4/17:15/20:1/22:5/Romans 13:6/II Corinthians 2:9/Psalm 75:1)

2.  A superfluous “a” which was deleted 

a. “As I was a journeying to see a very near kindred” (Alma 10:7)

b. “and there he found Muloki a preaching the word unto them” (Alma 21:11)

c. “For he had only one daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying” (Luke 8:42)

d. “thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee” (Psalm 73:27)

e. “in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing” (I Peter 3:20)

3. A superfluous “that” which was deleted

a. “wherefore, after that I have abridged the record of my father” (1 Nephi 1:17)

b. “because that he was a visionary man” (1 Nephi 2:11)

c. “And after that the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.” (1 Nephi 3:31)

d. “Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments” (Acts 1:2)

e. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8)

f. “And Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak” (Acts 24:10)

4. Changing “exceeding” to “exceedingly”

a. “I, Nephi, being exceeding young” (1 Nephi 2:16)

b. “when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceeding great” (1 Nephi 3:25)

c. “and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine” (1 Nephi 4:9)

d. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth” (Matthew 2:16)

e. “And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow” (Mark 9:3)

f. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:34)

5. Switching past tense with present tense

a. “And I saith unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things” (1 Nephi 17:50)

b. “he was also wroth; and he saith: Who is Abinadi” (Mosiah 11:27)

c. “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream” (Matthew 2:13)

d. “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city” (Matthew 4:5)

e. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them” (Mark 2:17)

6. Changing “which” to “who” and “whom”

a. “pointing their fingers towards those which had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:27)

b. “Behold the twelve disciples of the Lamb, which are chosen to minister unto thy seed” (1 Nephi 12:8)

c. “show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, which are of the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 29:14)

d. “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)

e. “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question” (Matthew 22:35)

e. “there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death” (Mark 9:1)

Consistencies in Book of Mormon Geography (Part 1)

The Book of Mormon is a work that has strong internal consistency with regards to geography. I have decided to examine the geography of the Book of Mormon to see if any of the geographical locations can serve as evidence supporting the argument that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record translated by the power of God. Here is a random sampling of some of the consistencies that I have found upon examining the ancient American geography described in the Book of Mormon. I have used the 1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon for this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah)

  1. “Go down” to the land of Zarahemla, “go up” to the land of Nephi

It is well established in the Book of Mormon that the Land of Zarahemla (Nephites) is in the northern regions of the land, and that the Land of Nephi (Lamanites) is in the southern region (Alma 22:27-34). I believe that it is a common notion that when describing a land that is northward, the words “up” or “above” the southern land would be used to describe its location. However, the Book of Mormon does not use this language, but rather always refers to traveling to the Land of Nephi as “going up” to the land of Nephi, and the land of Zarahemla as “going down” to the land of Zarahemla. This may suggest that the Land of Nephi was a higher elevation than the land of Zarahemla (though the elevation of Zarahemla and Nephi is never mentioned), or it may have some significance since it was the place where they first landed. This phrasing is consistently used throughout the Book of Mormon, suggesting that using phrases such as “went up to the land south” was intentional, yet it is a highly unusual style for most in the modern western world.

Land of Zarahemla:

a)    Alma 27:5 “Let us gather together this people of the Lord, and let us go down to the land of Zarahemla to our brethren the Nephites, and flee out of the hands of our enemies, that we be not destroyed.

b)    Alma 56:25 “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla.”

c)     Alma 51:11 “Amalickiah had gathered together a wonderfully great army, insomuch that he feared not to come down to the land of Zarahemla.

d)    Alma 53:10 “they had been converted unto the Lord; and they had been brought down into the land of Zarahemla…

e)    Alma 53:12 “And for this cause they were brought down into the land of Zarahemla…”

f)     Alma 56:25 “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah.”

g)    Alma 57:16 “we did resolve to send them down to the land of Zarahemla…

h)    Alma 57:28 “they had started to go down to the land of Zarahemla with.”

i)     Alma 57:29 “Behold, we did start to go down to the land of Zarahemla.

j)     Helaman 6:4 “And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did come down into the land of Zarahemla…

Land of Nephi:

a)     Mosiah 28:1 “and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard…”

b)     Alma 22:30-31 “And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful”

c)    Alma 29:14 “because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi.”

d)     Alma 47:1 “he had taken those who went with him, and went up in the land of Nephi among the Lamanites…”

e)    Alma 56:3 “two thousand of the sons of those men whom Ammon brought down out of the land of Nephi…

  1. The Destruction of Ammonihah

The City of Ammonihah is destroyed by the Lamanites in 81 B.C. (Alma 16:11/p. 249). Those who are killed are buried in shallow graves. It states in verse 11 “And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land for many years.”

In Alma 49:1-2 (p. 330) it states “Lamanites were seen approaching towards the land of Ammonihah. And behold, the city had been rebuilt…” by Moroni, and this occurred in 72 B.C., 9 years after the destruction of those in Ammonihah. The rebuilding of Ammonihah is consistent with the fact that it was uninhabitable for a number of years because of the scent of the dead. This is a consistency that is 83 pages apart.

  1. The City of Moroni sinks into the ocean

The city of Moroni is built by the seashore, as it states in Alma 62:32 “And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city; and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites” (p. 365/Alma 62:32).

The city of Moroni, which is by the east seashore, sinks into the ocean when Christ is killed in 33 A.D. as it states in 3 Nephi 8:9 (p. 422) “And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea…” The destruction of the city of Moroni in 33 A.D. is consistent with its geographical location.

  1. The City of Noah is close to Ammonihah

After the Lamanites destroy the people of Ammonihah, they also attack some of the people “around the borders of Noah” (Alma 16:3/p. 248).

Alma 49:11-12 references the fact that these cities are located close together and that the Lamanites had attacked them previously. In Alma 49:11, when the Lamanites decide again to attack the city of Ammonihah nearly ten years after they had so easily destroyed it, they find that it has been rebuilt by the Nephites to be a stronghold. The Lamanites then flee from the city of Ammonihah because it has been fortified, and decide to attack the city of Noah, which they had also easily attacked in the past (Alma 49:11/p. 331). When the Lamanites arrive in the land of Noah, they are surprised to see that is has also been fortified (Alma 49:14/p. 331). This is an internal consistency in that the city of Noah and the city of Ammonihah are in close proximity, and in the past were relatively easy targets for the Lamanites.

  1. Zarahemla was destroyed by fire

In Helaman 13:13 (p. 398), Samuel the Lamanite declares that the voice of the Lord told him “I would cause that fire should come down out of heaven and destroy it [Zarahemla]. But behold, it is for the righteous’ sake that it is spared.”

In 3 Nephi 8:8 (p. 422), after the death of the Savior and as a sign of his death, it states: “And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.” The word of the Lord is fulfilled when there are no more righteous in the land.

  1. City of Nephihah/Lehi/Morianton/Gid/Mulek/Moroni

There is geographical consistency in the chapters beginning in Alma 50:13 to Helaman 5:15. The cities mentioned in Alma 51:26 are on the eastern seashore, and the armies of the Lamanites take control of them one at a time, suggesting they may have followed a highway.

The following are scriptures showing how the cities mentioned above are in close proximity to each other and are along the eastern seashore:

  1. “And they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea” (Alma 50:13)
  2. “began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron…called the name of the city, or land, Nephihah.” (Alma 50:14)
  3. “And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15)
  4. “The city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore.” (Alma 51:26)
  5. “The people of Nephihah, who were gathered together from the city of Moroni and the city of Lehi and the city of Morianton, were attacked by the Lamanites.” (Alma 59:5-6)

Those who live in Moroni, Lehi, Morianton, and Melek, are compelled to flea to Nephihah (Alma 59:5-6/Alma 51:24). Nephihah is then attacked. The prisoners of the Nephites are kept in the city of Gid, and Moroni gets the prisoners back by strategem (Alma 55:7) In Alma 62:30, Moroni regains the land of Nephihah and goes on to regain the land of Lehi. Afterwards, they then attack the Lamanites, who were one great army, in the land of Moroni (Alma 62:32). Moroni, Lehi, and Teancum destroy the Lamanites and chase them out of the land (Alma 62:38). After the wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites, the prophets Nephi and Lehi preach to those in Bountiful, then go to Gid, and then go to Mulek, both of which were on the line of cities on the east seashore mentioned in Alma 51:26 (Helaman 5:15). These consistencies suggest that the Book of Mormon follows a strict geographical structure that could not be made up from one’s head as one went along dictating the book. A detailed map would have been required to maintain the consistency.

An Argument in Favor of the Divinity of the Book of Mormon Translation (Part II)

In part II of this work I will focus on the Book of Ether and how it exists as evidence that the Book of Mormon was not made up while it was dictated, and its complexity suggests that more than a simple genealogical outline would be necessary to accomplish the task of dictating the Book of Ether. I will be using the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon in this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 1994). The evidence from the Book of Ether, as well as evidence analyzed in Part I and in future installments of this series, will help support the likelihood that Joseph Smith did in fact translate the Book of Mormon from an ancient record.

1. THE GENEALOGY OF ETHER: The Book of Ether follows the history of a people (known as the Jaredites) who left for the Americas soon after the corrupting of languages at the Tower of Babel. Moroni abridges this book from 24 plates hidden by the prophet Ether, found by King Limhi, the son of King Noah. In Ether 1:6-32, Moroni gives the genealogy of Ether, the last Prophet among the Jaredites, all the way back to Jared, the first to arrive to the Americas after the Tower of Babel. Moroni gives 30 names for the genealogy, stating simply:

He that wrote this record was Ether, and he was a descendant of Coriantor. Coriantor was the son of Moron. And Moron was the son of Ethem. And Ethem was the son of Ahah. And Ahah was the son of Seth. And Seth was the son of Shiblon. And Shiblon was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Amnigaddah. And Amnigaddah was the son of Aaron. And Aaron was a descendant of Heth, who was the son of Hearthom. And Hearthom was the son of Lib. And Lib was the son of Kish. And Kish was the son of Corom. And Corom was the son of Levi. And Levi was the son of Kim. And Kim was the son of Morianton. And Morianton was a descendant of Riplakish. And Riplakish was the son of Shez. And Shez was the son of Heth. And Heth was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Emer. And Emer was the son of Omer. And Omer was the son of Shule. And Shule was the son of Kib. And Kib was the son of Orihah, who was the son of Jared.” (Ether 1:6-32).

The Book of Ether then goes on to describe the history and wars of the Jaredites, and it follows this exact genealogy in reverse order, starting with Jared and then ending with Ether.

Ether 6:14 “And Jared had four sons; and they were called Jacom, and Gilgah, and Mahah, and Orihah.”

Ether 7:3 “And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that Kib reigned in his stead; and Kib begat Corihor.”

Ether 7:7 “nevertheless, Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.”

Ether 8:1 “And it came to pass that he begat Omer, and Omer reigned in his stead. And Omer begat Jared; and Jared begat sons and daughters.

Ether 9:14 “And it came to pass that Omer began to be old; nevertheless, in his old age he begat Emer; and he appointed Emer to be king to reign in his stead.”

Ether 9:21 “And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead.”

Ether 9:25 “And it came to pass that he begat Com, and Com reigned in his stead; and he reigned forty and nine years, and he begat Heth; and he also begat other sons and daughters.

Ether 10:1 “And it came to pass that Shez, who was a descendant of Heth-for Heth had perished by the famine and all his household save it were Shez…

Ether 10:4 “And Shez did live to an exceedingly old age; and he begat Riplakish.”

Ether 10:9 “And it came to pass after the space of many years, Morianton (he being a descendant of Riplakish)…”

Ether 10:13 “And Morianton did live to an exceedingly great age, and then he begat Kim; and Kim did reign in the stead of his father.”

Ether 10:14 “And he begat sons and daughters in captivity, and in his old age he begat Levi

Ether 10:16 “and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Corom, whom he anointed king in his stead.

Ether 10:17 “and after he had seen many days he did pass away, even like unto the rest of the earth; and Kish reigned in his stead.

Ether 10:18 “And it came to pass that Kish passed away also, and Lib reigned in his stead.

Ether 10:29 “And it came to pass that Lib did live many years, and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Hearthom.

Ether 10:31 “And he begat Heth, and Heth lived in captivity all his days. And Heth begat Aaron, and Aaron dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Amnigaddah, and Amnigaddah also dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Coriantum, and Coriantum dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Com.

Ether 11:4 “And he lived to a good old age, and begat Shiblom” (there seems to be an error here, as the genealogy in Ether 1 says “Shiblon.” This is most likely an error made in the original writing or the printer’s manuscript. This error was not corrected in the 1981 edition.

Ether 11:9 “And it came to pass that Shiblom was slain, and Seth was brought into captivity…”

Ether 11:10 “And it came to pass that Ahah, his son, did obtain the kingdom…”

Ether 11:11 “And Ethem, being a descendant of Ahah, did obtain the kingdom.”

Ether 11:14 “And it came to pass that Ethem did execute judgment in wickedness all his days; and he begat Moron.”

Ether 11:18 “Moron dwelt in captivity all the remainder of his days; and he begat Coriantor.”

Ether 11:23 “And it came to pass that Coriantor begat Ether, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days.

In addition to following the genealogy given in Ether 1, the Book of Ether speaks of many other sons and descendants of that are not found in the genealogy of Ether 1. This only adds to the complexity of an already complex family line. Not only does it write the history of a list of 30 people in reverse chronology, but he also includes the descendants and sons/daughters of these individuals as well. For example, after Orihah begat Kib, Kib begat Corihor (Ether 7:3). Corihor is not mentioned in the original genealogy, but he plays a significant part in the chapter as he overthrows his father, who then has a son named Shule (part of the genealogy of Ether 1) while in captivity (Ether7:7). The writer then goes on to describe the genealogy of Corihor, who is overthrown by Shule (Ether 7:9), but has a son named Noah who rebels with his brother Cohor (Ether 7:15). Noah is killed and then the son of Noah, whose name is Cohor, takes over part of the kingdom (Ether 7:20). Cohor is slain, and his son Nimrod gives up the kingdom to Shule (Ether 7:21-22).

These multiple story-lines  continue in Ether 8 when Shule begat Omer (part of Ether’s genealogy) and Omer begat Jared (not part of the genealogy) (Ether 8:1). Omer has two sons named Esrom and Coriantumr, who take back the kingdom (Ether 8:4-6). Akish, the son of Kimnor, then plots with Jared to killer Omer (Ether 8:10-14). Omer escapes, then Akish kills Jared and takes over the kingdom (Ether 9:3-5). Then Akish kills his son, and his brother flees with others to Omer, and Akish gives battle to his sons (Ether 9:7-13). Omer is restored to the throne, and then he has a son named Emer, finally reaching the next in the line of Ether’s ancestors (Ether 9:14). Adding in these story-lines and additional descendants and families not mentioned in Ether 1:6-32 would have confused someone who was making it up as they went along, and would require an extremely detailed and lengthy outline to account for all of the events and the accuracy with which the genealogy is followed in the Book of Ether.

The Book of Ether goes on for roughly 30 pages, and includes the writings of Moroni, the visions of the Brother of Jared, the method used to travel to the Americas, the rise and fall of kings, and the battles that took place in ancient America. In addition, the story of the Book of Ether is referenced in other portions of the Book of Mormon (see Omni 1:21-22/Mosiah 8:7-11/Alma 37:21-32). It would require superhuman ability to recount the genealogy provided in Ether 1:6-32 in reverse order and include separate genealogies, interjections by the narrator, and other story arcs in the manner of translation often mocked by critics. The incredible amount of detail suggests that a complex outline would be required in order to have dictated such a history, in addition to the overall narrative outline found in part I of this series, and the complex writings of Alma 36 and Jacob 5, which I will review in future installments. Since no witnesses saw Joseph with an outline (and if he had the whole story of the Book of Mormon previously written on pages and pages of guiding outlines, why did he need scribes to write his dictation?), it is unlikely that Joseph had such an all-encompassing outline at his disposal while dictating the translation.

“Thus Saith The Lord:” Calling into Question Beliefs of How Revelation Should Be Received.

I have decided to examine some examples of prophets recording the word of the Lord in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Many critics argue that modern-day LDS revelations, some of which have gone through grammatical and textual changes, are false revelations. They argue that because the revelations are not perfect or went through revisions, then they are not the words of the Lord. Essentially, critics demand that revelations be written in perfect form, without revision, and in one sitting. As far as I know, the assumption that revelations from the Lord must be written in one sitting without change or revision is not based on any Biblical or historical evidence. I will argue that there is absolutely no reason to suggest that when a prophet says “Thus saith the Lord” that every word that comes out of his mouth is what exactly what the Lord said, down to the last exclamation point. The Bible and Book of Mormon are shrouded in mystery on the subject of how revelations are recorded, so I do not claim to know for a surety how revelation is received and recorded in ancient scripture. What I do hope to do is help the reader understand the possibility that when we are criticizing modern-day revelations that we are doing so based on our own assumptions of what revelation should be and not what it actually is as presented in ancient scripture. All of the points I make and questions I ask are pure speculation and are not meant to provide conclusive evidence of how revelation is received. I ask these rhetorical questions because I want to show that the nature of recording prophetic revelations are seldom brought to light in ancient scripture, and unfortunately our own assumptions tend to fill the void. (I will be citing from the King James Version of the Bible and the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon)

Before I begin, I would like to ask some rhetorical questions to help set the stage to challenge assumptions about ancient and modern day revelation:

  1. Do prophets in the Bible and Book of Mormon, when quoting the Lord, literally quote him word for word?
  2. What happens when the voice of the Lord comes to a prophet when they do not have a quill and parchment on hand? Do they  write what they heard the Lord say according to their memory?
  3. Did the prophets wait for the Lord to speak to them, and then literally write down every single word that the Lord spoke in real time?
  4. If prophets write the words of the Lord according to their memory, does that mean that there would be human errors in the revelation? Does the Holy Ghost prevent errors from being made?

I will begin by examining some examples of the Lord commanding his prophets to write his words as found in the Book of Mormon. The following examples have helped strengthen my testimony in the revelations from the Lord through Joseph Smith because it has helped me break down my own assumptions about the nature of recording prophetic revelation.

EXAMPLE #1: The first example is of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Ether.The Brother of Jared has a miraculous vision of the Spiritual Lord Jesus Christ when the Lord touches clear stones in order to provide light in the Jaredite barges. The Brother of Jared quotes the Lord in Ether 3:7,9,11,13-16,21-24. According to Moroni, who abridged the Book of Ether, these writings are much longer, but he is forbidden to write them down (v. 17).

The Brother of Jared quotes the Lord for many verses, and yet he had the vision while he was at the top of a mountain without means to write down what he heard. It is after he has the marvelous vision that the Lord commands him to descend and write down what he saw and heard (Ether 4:1). We do not know by what means he wrote down this miraculous and lengthy vision. It is possible that he wrote it all according to his memory or was guided by the Holy Ghost. It is possible that he wrote it in one sitting without revision, or he wrote it, and revised it several times before being satisfied with it. All of these options are pure speculation.

The prophet Moroni, in Ether 4, then goes on to say that the Lord spoke to him and commanded him to write the words of the Brother of Jared, and he quotes the Lord’s commandment in verses 6-19. In Ether 5:1, Moroni may give us a clue as to what actually happens (on at least this one occasion) when a prophet writes down the words of the Lord. He states: “And now I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory; and I have told you the things which I have sealed up…” If Moroni is referring to the words of the Lord in verses 6-19, then the words that are spoken by the Lord may not be word for word what was spoken to Moroni, but rather the words of the Lord as he remembered to the best of his ability.

EXAMPLE #2: The second example I will offer from the Book of Mormon comes from the writings of 1 Nephi. Nephi is commanded to write a record on two separate sets of metal plates (1 Nephi 19:1) after he and his family arrive in the Americas, about 11 years (589 B.C.) after they left Jerusalem. Previous to writing on the plates of ore, Nephi experiences miraculous visions of angels and of the Spirit of the Lord. Specifically, Nephi has the vision of the tree of life and his interactions with the Spirit of the Lord and an angel are found in 1 Nephi 11-14. This vision comprises 12 pages of dialogue between Nephi, the Spirit of the Lord, an angel, as well as physical descriptions of what Nephi saw. While it is possible that, shortly after having them, Nephi wrote down his visions on another source, such as parchment. However, Nephi does not begin to write down his experiences on the plates of ore until nearly 11 years after his experiences. It is possible that Nephi is writing according to his memory, and thus the words of the Lord are not the exact words spoken, but nevertheless they are the doctrines and events that the Lord commanded to be written. Other examples of Nephi receiving the word of the Lord prior to making the small and large plates include 1 Nephi 2:19-24 and 1 Nephi 17:53.

EXAMPLE #3: The third example I will give of prophets writing the words of the Lord well after receiving them comes from Helaman 10. Nephi has decided to return home after validating a prophecy he made about the murder of the Chief Judge. Helaman 10:2-3 states: “And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him… And it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him…” The Lord then speaks for 8 verses or 289 words. What happens after he hears the voice of the Lord is important to consider when understanding the nature of recorded revelations. It states in verse 12: “when the Lord had spoken these words unto Nephi, he did stop and did not go unto his own house, but did return unto the multitudes…to declare unto them the word of the Lord which had been spoken unto him.” In verse 12, we find that Nephi did not receive this revelation in his home, at his desk, with a parchment, quill, and ink to write down the exact words of the Lord. He instead turned around and returned to the city to preach the words of the Lord, and then he or someone else wrote the words afterwards. Just how he went about writing the words of the Lord—whether by memory, the Holy Ghost, or some other means—we are not sure.

EXAMPLE #4: The revelations of Isaiah and the words of Moses in Exodus are hardly put through as much scrutiny by Christians as are the revelations of Joseph Smith. Yet the words of Isaiah and Moses are similar to that of Joseph Smith’s revelations in that they claim to quote the Lord (“saith the Lord”) and they do so uninterrupted for many pages. Unlike the revelations of Joseph Smith, some of which were received and recorded in the presence of witnesses, we know very little about when or how the revelations of Isaiah and Moses were written. In Isaiah 1, Isaiah writes claiming that what he writes are the words of the Lord himself (“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” Isaiah 1:18). This chapter is two pages long in the KJV Bible. What we don’t know about this chapter, as well as other verses in Isaiah quoting the Lord (see Isaiah 7:3-9, Isaiah 6:1,3-10,12), is how this revelation was recorded. Did Isaiah make several revisions of his account? Did he receive the revelation and simultaneously write it down, or did he record it hours, days, or years after the fact? Did the Holy Spirit give him power to remember the exact words spoken to him, or did he record it to the best of his knowledge? Those who criticize the revelations of Joseph Smith do so without understanding that prophets such as Isaiah may have used the exact same methods to produce their writings, such as recording from their memories or making multiple revisions. If it were somehow proven that Isaiah made multiple revisions of his writings and wrote the words of the Lord according to his memory then critics would not have ammunition to criticize LDS revelations. What we do know about ancient prophecies, however, is that we don’t know much about them.

The writings of Moses are also very similar to the revelations given by Joseph Smith because he also claims to quote the Lord God and often records the words of the Lord after he has heard them. In Exodus 19, the Lord is quoted on several occasions. We know he is quoting the Lord because in verse 3 it reads “And the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob” and in verse 9 it reads “And the Lord said unto Moses…” and he goes on to quote the Lord. (see Exodus 19:3-6, 9-13,20-22,24). Most of Exodus 20 also quotes the Lord, as well as all of chapters 21-23. In Exodus 24 it is suggested that Moses came down out of the mountain, after receiving chapters 20-23 from the Lord, spoke these commandments to Israel, and then wrote them down after he had spoken them to the people. It would be a superhuman feat for Moses to have copied the exact words of the Lord (nearly 7 pages in the KJV) without divine help after having spoken them to the House of Israel. Seldom do Christians question this accomplishment, some of whom believe the Bible to be the perfect word of God. We do not know exactly how this revelation was received or recorded. Similar to the questions asked previously about the revelations of Isaiah, I would like to ask again: did Moses write down the exact words of God? Did he bring a quill and parchment to write word for word the commandments of the Lord on the mountain? Did he write according to his memory, or did the Holy Spirit expand his memory to perfection? Did he make multiple revisions to these revelations, or did he write them perfectly, in one draft and in one sitting?

Once again, the point I am making is that we know very little about how ancient prophets recorded the words of the Lord. How much do we put our perceptions of what revelation “should be” on what revelation actually is? Since we know very little about how the word of the Lord was received in ancient times, it is unreasonable for us to challenge modern-day revelations according to our unfounded beliefs of how revelation from the Lord should be received.