Mormon 8

 

A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni


 

 

 

Mormon 8:1 I, Moroni, Do Finish the Record of My Father, Mormon:

 

     Jerry Ainsworth writes that of all the voices that speak to us from the annals of ancient America, none is more eloquent than Moroni's. His words ring with a heartfelt vibrancy, having been forged in the crucible of a holocaust and tempered by his foreknowledge of events ranging far into the future. Many of those future events would themselves depend upon Moroni's successful completion of his ministry.

     The picture of himself that emerges from Moroni's writings is fashioned as much by what he does not say as by what he says. He writes very little about himself. The most notable character trait of this keeper of sacred records is his humility. When he speaks of himself, it is in the most self-effacing of contexts. We observe this when he admits his conflict over the fundamental principle of baptism. We see it when he speaks of his fears that people might mock the things of God because of the inadequacy of his writing skills.

     Moroni the soldier grew up in the household of the greatest Nephite commander of all time. At the same time, he was possibly nurtured by a mother who was a pacifist. Moroni the writer and historian matured in the shadow of the man who single-handedly abridged centuries of his people's history. Moroni the son, however, seems never to have been impoverished by his father's greatness. Rather, he appears ennobled by a relationship that forever after shaped his long and productive life.

     Following a brief and sober introduction, Moroni completes his father's record, as commanded. He also abridges the Jaredite record. He then writes what is popularly called the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. In addition, he writes his own section in the Book of Mormon--the book of Moroni--before closing this unique and sacred record.

     The volume of Moroni's work rivals, and probably far exceeds, that of his father. To begin with, he lacked the space on the plates in which to accomplish much writing and even ore from which to produce more plates. He overcame these obstacles. From a man who lamented the weakness of his writing skills, who didn't know what the future had in store for him, the world received a priceless, enduring gift.

     It is thus obvious from the final outcome that Moroni's circumstances changed significantly after his father's death. But because he tells us so very little about his travels and circumstances, we are left to piece together a picture of what happened from a few personal remarks, even fewer documents, some scriptural innuendoes, and our own speculative attempts to understand his life. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 201-202]

 

Mormon 8:1 I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]

 

Mormon 8:1 Behold I, Moroni . . . have but few things to write (Illustration): Chart: "Writings of Moroni." [John W. & J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., Chart #21]

 

Mormon 8:2 The Nephites Who Had Escaped into the Country Southward:

 

     After the great and tremendous battle at the hill Cumorah, Moroni notes that "the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed" (Mormon 8:2). One might wonder why the Nephites even tried to escape in a direction southward if that's where the Lamanites were? Why didn't Moroni report on any of the Nephites who tried to escape into the land northward? And despite the fact that Moroni says that he remained "alone," were there any Nephites who did escape?

     Geographically speaking, does the term "country southward" mean "the land southward", which was south of the small neck of land (Alma 22:27-34)? Or does it simply mean any land southward from the hill Cumorah? For the survivors to have reached the "land southward" (meaning the land south of the small neck) they would have had to go through many miles of territory occupied by Lamanites or those the Lamanites had conquered. Possibly "the country southward" simply refers to those lands toward Jordan, Boaz or Desolation which were southward from Cumorah and which lands were possibly more familiar to the survivors. There they might have hoped to find surviving pockets of subjugated Nephites who they could relate to and among whom they might disappear from sight. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

     According to John Sorenson, a valid question is, "Why didn't the Nephites continue retreating farther and farther north and so escape the Lamanites altogether?" In the first place, we must realize that rarely if ever is there any decent land that does not already contain a sizable population, so they would have had to dispossess other people first. . . . Farther north also lay another military threat. Beyond the big swamps they would come nearer and nearer to the territory of Teotihuacan proper, the powerful state allied culturally if not militarily with the Lamanites on their other side. The Teotihuacan domain of control apparently did not extend quite as far as the Tuxtlas [the mountains where Sorenson's proposed hill Cumorah was located] by A.D. 380, but any move farther north by Mormon's people would have encountered this great power. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pp. 348-349]

 

Mormon 8:3 But Behold, They Are Gone:

 

     According to Jerry Ainsworth, Moroni finally reports in A.D. 400--fifteen years after Cumorah--that "my father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go" (Mormon 8:5). Moroni further says--also fifteen years after Cumorah--that the Lamanites "have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more" (Mormon 8:7). That means that immediately after the battle of Cumorah the destruction of the Nephites was not complete. It was not until A.D. 400 that Moroni could say of the Nephite nation, "Behold, they are gone" (Mormon 8:3). Thus while Mormon had witnessed "almost all the destruction of my people" (Words of Mormon 1:1), it was left to Moroni to declare that "they are gone" (Mormon 8:3). Mormon's fears concerning the "utter destruction" of his people "like unto the Jaredites" had come true (see Moroni 9:22-23). Not only had Nephi, a thousand years earlier, predicted the utter destruction of the Nephites (2 Nephi 26:9-11), so had Alma in 73 B.C. (see Alma 45:14). [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 197] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 27:32]

 

Mormon 8:3,5 I [Moroni] Even Remain Alone:

 

     It is interesting that Moroni twice makes mention of the fact that he is "alone." In Mormon 8:3 he says, "And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father." In Mormon 8:5 he says, "Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go."

     In respect to Moroni's writing assignment, the phrase "I even remain alone to write the sad tale" apparently means that Moroni was the only official Nephite scribe left. He makes a point that he had received a "commandment" from his father Mormon, the only other prophet and record keeper besides Moroni. However, the idea that Moroni was the only Nephite left is a little bit questionable. Moroni 1:2 lets us know that at a later date Moroni says, "they (the Lamanites) put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ." Therefore, the meaning of the phrase "I am alone" probably means that all the other major Nephite leaders had been put to death by the Lamanites. The words in Mormon 8:5, "my father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinfolk" implies further that Mormon and Moroni were probably part of a great family unit that shouldered much spiritual and secular responsibility in the Nephite society. The phrase, "I have not friends nor whither to go" might imply the lack of righteous covenant people to whom Moroni could go for help. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

     According to John Sorenson, the record came to an end because the lineage did, not because an entire civilization ceased (see Moroni 9:20,24) The difference is important if we are to relate the volume accurately to archaeological finds. Mormon noted that "a few . . had escaped into the south countries, and a few . . had dissented over unto the Lamanites" (Mormon 6:15). Naturally, large numbers of people of Nephite descent had never consented to flee their lands in the first place (Mormon 2:7-8), but had switched allegiance and renounced their old beliefs and allegiance rather than move out (Moroni 1:2) Mormon observed to his son that "many of our brethren have dissented over unto the Lamanites" (Moroni 9:24) The Doctrine and Covenants says that modern descendants of not only the Nephites but also the major lineages allied with them, the Jacobites, Josephites, and Zoramites, will yet be identified (D & C 3:17-20; 10:48). [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 56] [See the commentary on Ether 1:1: 13:21]

 

Mormon 8:4 I Will Write and Hide Up the Records:

 

     When Moroni says, "I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not" (Mormon 8:4), does Moroni intend to hide up the records in the earth before or after he goes where "it mattereth not"? Or is he referring to a process? Immediately after this verse, in Mormon 8:6, Moroni mentions that "400 years have passed away since the coming of our Lord." Thus, considering the fact that the Book of Mormon plates at this time were still lacking the book of Ether and the book of Moroni, we might say that not only were the plates not ready to be hid up permanently yet, but Moroni still had quite a bit of translation work yet to do. The reader should note that Moroni makes no mention of hiding up his records in the hill Cumorah, but rather in "the earth." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mormon 8:4 I will write and hide up the records in the earth (Illustration): Stone Box from Chichen Itza. Here is one example of an American stone box dating to A.D. 650-900. Discovered at the base of the temple of Kulkulcan at Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico, in the late 1800s, where it is exhibited, it measures approximately 2.5 by 2 by 2 feet, exterior. The box is carved out of one piece of stone, the rounded lid out of another. In this box were found masonry tools; other stone boxes containing jewelry and precious textiles have been found throughout Mexico and Central America. Many of them are on exhibit in the Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. (See Cheesman, "The Stone Box," Improvement Era, Oct. 1966, pp. 876-78, 900) [Paul Cheesman, "Ancient Writing on Metal Plates," The Ensign, October 1979, p. 47]

 

Mormon 8:5 My Father Hath Been Slain in Battle:

 

     Jerry Ainsworth notes that the writings of Mormon and Moroni about events of their day caused him to focus on several statements they made, which, on the surface, seem to contradict one another. Though he viewed these "contradictions" as insignificant, he still felt a need to resolve them in his own mind. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, "By proving contraries, truth is made manifest" (History of the Church, 6:428).

     According to Ainsworth, one of these contradictions involves Moroni's comment, "my father hath been slain in battle . . ." (Mormon 8:5). Yet after the battle of Cumorah, Mormon records that he was one of only 24 that survived from a Nephite army of 230,000. For the record he states that there were "a few who had escaped into the south countries," and "a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites" (see Mormon 6:10-15). So the question is, Even assuming all twenty-four survivors remained with Mormon, could such a one-sided conflict be called a battle? Even more perplexing is the question of where and when such a battle might have occurred? [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 36]

 

Mormon 8:5 I Have Not Friends:

 

     According to Jerry Ainsworth, when Moroni said that he was alone, without "kinsfolk" or "friends" (Mormon 8:5) in A.D. 400, we should not understand this to refer to all the descendants of those who had migrated northward many generations earlier. Successive migrations over hundreds of years to exceedingly great distances would be difficult to keep track of. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 203]

 

Mormon 8:8-9 The Whole Face of This Land:

 

     With the phrase "the whole face of this land" (Mormon 8:8), the reader might assume that Moroni is referring to just the land near where he was staying. However, when Moroni verifies in Mormon 8:2 that "the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed," he gives us an indication that somehow he was receiving knowledge about what was going on in places quite a distance from either the hill Cumorah or from the location where he was in hiding. How Moroni received that knowledge is not told to us. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mormon 8:8 This Land Is One Continual Round of Murder and Bloodshed; and No One Knoweth the End of the War:

 

     It is interesting to note a possible word parallel ("one continual round") with Mormon's description of the fate of Lehi's people after they had forsaken the gospel covenants of Christ and with Nephi's teachings concerning the promise for those who keep the covenants. At the conceptual chiastic center of First Nephi, the place where the most important concepts are found, the reader will find these thoughts by Nephi on the blessings associated with covenant obedience:

           For He is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.

           For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round. (1 Nephi 10:18-19)

 

Mormon says the following about the fallen covenant people:

           . . . and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war. (Mormon 8:8)

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mormon 8:8 The Lamanites Are at War with One Another; and the Whole Face of This Land Is One Continual Round of Murder and Bloodshed:

 

      [See the commentary on the Great Apostasy (Moroni 10:34) ]

 

Mormon 8:8 The Lamanites Are at War with One Another:

 

     One of the most often-quoted stories used to prove that the last battles were fought in New York stems from an incident which took place in the travels of Zion's camp and has come to be known as "the Zelph incident." In June 1834, some of the members of Zion's camp uncovered some bones and Indian artifacts at the top of a mound in Illinois (one mile south of the modern Valley City). The identity of the deceased Indian initiated a revelation received by Joseph Smith, which he then apparently related to some members of the group in whole or in part. Subsequently, the information surrounding all of these events was recorded by several members of the camp (It should be noted, however, that Joseph Smith kept no personal record of the march of Zion's camp). These reports were then interpreted by Church historians. Because there have been two different accounts which have appeared in official Church history, an exhaustive analysis and compilation of all the pertinent documents was undertaken by Kenneth Godfrey ("The Zelph Story," 1989, F.A.R.M.S.).

     The first Church account appears to have been written by Willard Richards between December 21, 1842, and March 27, 1843 under the title "Manuscript History of the Church," Book A-1. Although very acceptable at the time, Richards did two things which have affected the historical impact of the Zelph story in a great way: 1. He wrote the account without having personal first-hand knowledge (Even though he apparently blended the sources available to him and perhaps received oral input, the Zion's camp experiences had taken place nearly two years before Richards had joined the Church); and 2. He wrote the account as if he were Joseph Smith (a rather common practice of the day but not well-known by the modern reader). The manuscript was subjected to a number of editorial additions and deletions before publication, which markings appear on the manuscript. Subsequently, another clerk, Wilmer Benson, drew up a second copy of the same material known as the "Manuscript History of the Church," Book A-2. It differs from the Richards version in a dozen details of spelling, punctuation and phrasing, but with only one notable difference: Where Richards had "a great struggle with the Lamanites," Benson's script reads, "the last great struggle with the Lamanites." For the benefit of the Book of Mormon student, the following is the original account written by Richards with the editorial changes as marked [A-1]. These editorial changes are indicated by the crossed-out words (deletions) and the italicized words (additions):

           Tuesday the 3rd During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country, Nephites, Lamanites&e. and this morning I went up on a high mound near the river, accompanied by several the brethren. From this mound we could overlook the tops of the trees and view the prairie on each side of the river as far as our vision could extend and the scenery was truly delightful.

           On the top of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars having been erected, one above the other, according to ancient order and the remains of human bones were strewn over the surface of the ground. The brethren procured a shovel and hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of was a Laman [=] itish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs Brigham Young retained the arrow, and the brethren carried some pieces of the skeleton to Clay county - The contemplation of the scenery around before us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms and subsequently the vision of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose Skeleton we had seen was before us was a white Lamanite, a large thick set man and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus who was known from the hill Cumorah or eastern Sea, to the Rocky Mountains, His name was Zelph. The curse was taken from Zelph him, or at least, in part. one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during a last great struggle with the Lamanites and Nephites: Elder Woodruff carried the thigh bone to Clay county.

 

     The 1904 first edition of the B.H. Roberts' edited History of the Church in seven volumes had the account [A-1] as Richards had left it. In 1934 and 1948, however, under the direction of Joseph Fielding Smith who became Church historian, Benson's version [A-2] was substituted for that of Richards version [A-1] and explicit references to the Hill Cumorah and the Nephites were reintroduced. That phrasing has continued to the present in all reprintings.

     In 1957, Preston Nibley, assistant Church historian, authorized Fletcher Hammond to announce that the 1904 edition was correct (See Hammond 1959):

           . . . Brother Nibley has authorized me to say that the 1904 edition of the Documentary History of the Church Vol. II at pages 79 and 80 correctly reports the "Zelph" incident; and that the part of the 1934 (and the 1948) edition of the same history which differs from it is erroneous. (Palmer 1981:77)

 

     Summarizing his thorough analysis, Godfrey concluded:

           Most sources agree that Zelph was a white Lamanite who fought under a leader named Onandagus (variously spelled). Beyond that, what Joseph said to his men is not entirely clear, judging by the variations in the available sources. Therefore, those who try to support a particular historical or geographical point of view about the Book of Mormon by citing the Zelph story are on inconclusive grounds.

[Kenneth W. Godfrey, "The Zelph Story," F.A.R.M.S., 1989; see also Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 352-353]

 

Mormon 8:12 Behold I Am Moroni . . . I Make an End of Speaking concerning This People:

 

     Moroni was "commanded" by his father to "finish" his father's abridgment of the large plates of Nephi concerning "the sad tale of the destruction of [his] people" and then "hide up the records in the earth" (Mormon 8:1-4). According to Donl Peterson, Moroni apparently first met this responsibility with an epilogue that now comprises thirteen verses (Mormon 8:1-13). He ended those verses with the following: "Behold, I make an end of speaking concerning this people. I am the son of Mormon, and my father was a descendant of Nephi" (Mormon 8:12-13).

     After adding this brief epilogue, and before hiding the plates, Moroni then apparently wrote the heading and first paragraph of the title page, which reads as follows:

     The Book of Mormon

     An account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi.

     Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites--Written to the Lamanites which are a remnant of the house of Israel, and also to Jew and Gentile--Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation--Written and sealed up and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed, to come forth by the gift and power of God, unto the interpretation thereof--Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile--the interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

 

      According to Peterson, whatever else Moroni had in mind at that time, aside from survival itself, we are not told. [H. Donl Peterson, Moroni: Ancient Prophet Modern Messenger, pp. 18-19] [For the proposed chronological completion of the Title Page, see the commentary on Moroni 1:1]

 

Mormon 8:13 I (Moroni) Am the Son of Mormon, and My Father Was a Descendant of Nephi:

 

     According to John Sorenson, as soon as Nephi became ruler over a part of Lehi's descendants, Nephi's personal record in fact became the record of his rule over the people (2 Nephi 5:33; Jacob 7:26). Thereafter his successors, consisting of direct descendants from him, continued to make entries in the growing account (Jacob 1:2-3, 9-20; Omni 1:11; Mosiah 17:2; 25:13; 28:10-11, 20; Alma 63:1; Helaman 3:37; 3 Nephi 1:2; 5:20; Mormon 1:1-5; 6:6). The record of this ruling lineage was kept on "the plates of Nephi" [Large Plates] as the official account of notable events of their reign. . . . The lineage founded by the original Nephi continued to hold the charter and sacred emblems of rulership over all Lehi's descendants. The Nephi lineage continued powerful until the fourth century A.D., when Mormon became its (final) leader (Mormon 1:5; 2:1-2). In all likelihood he was the senior male in the senior branch of the line, or he would not have been installed so easily in the crucial leadership position over his group's armies at age 15, no matter what charismatic qualities he brought to the task. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pp. 51, 163-164]

 

Mormon 8:14 And I Am the Same Who Hideth up This Record unto the Lord:

 

     After writing an epilogue to his father's abridgment (see Mormon 8:1-13), the amount of time that elapsed before Moroni returned to the sacred depository to once again take the stylus in hand is unclear. However, when Moroni returned to the sacred site and removed the plates of Mormon from their place of concealment. He engraved a brief affirmation that he was the same person who had previously buried the sacred records. He wrote: "And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord" (Mormon 8:14). Without that transitional sentence the reader would be lost as to who was writing on the plates following the previous benedictory conclusion.

     According to Donl Peterson, from Moroni's first epilogue (vv. 1-13) to this declaration ( v. 14--"I am the same who hideth up this record") at least three things happened to Moroni: (1) he had procured more plates; (2) he had had some great and unusual spiritual experiences wherein he had seen in vision, among other things, the events that would transpire in the last dispensation; and (3) his writing style had changed to one of assurance and of confidence, which was noticeably lacking in his previous entry. [H. Donl Peterson, Moroni: Ancient Prophet Modern Messenger, p. 21]

 

Mormon 8:14-16 It Shall Be Brought out of the Earth, and It Shall Shine Forth out of Darkness:

 

     The Book of Mormon documents well the fact that sacred records were "hidden" in the earth, to be brought forth by those chosen of the Lord (see 4 Nephi 1:48-49; Mormon 6:6; 8:4,14; Ether 3:22-24, 27-28; 4:1-5; 15:33). Concerning his record, Moroni notes:

           And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord; . . . and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless. For none can have power to bring it to light save it be given him of God; . . . And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God. (Mormon 8:14-16)

 

     According to John Tvedtnes, it is significant in itself that besides the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith brought forth other ancient works of scripture, including part of a revelation written by John the apostle (D&C 7), lost writings of Moses and Enoch (Moses 1, 6-7; D&C 107:40-57), and the Book of Abraham. He also restored some missing portions of the Bible, such as Joseph Smith--Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price, D&C 45, and portions of the Joseph Smith Translation. However, there is additional significance to the fact that Joseph Smith's work marked the beginning of an era in which ancient records would be rediscovered in such vast quantities that our knowledge about the ancient Near East would greatly multiply in just a few generations. The discovery of records hidden in the Near East has made headline news in our time. Most notable is the large cache of documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which began coming to light in 1947. Other hidden documents have been found elsewhere in Israel, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran.

     Paul Cheesman has pointed out two accounts of sacred texts hidden by Mesoamerican Indians. The first comes from an early Spanish friar, who learned from an Otami Indian man a tradition about a book that spoke of God and Christ but had perished after being buried in the ground by its guardians.1 The other is the "Golden Book" of the Maya Indians said to have been hidden away to prevent it from falling into the hands of the invading Spanish. Tradition indicates that the fifty-two gold plates comprising the record contained the history of the Maya.2

     In comparing the information extracted from all these documents through years of painstaking research, Tvedtnes found that the Book of Mormon story has antecedents in the ancient world that were not known to Joseph Smith or his contemporaries. Among these are the concept of writing and hiding books in such a way that they could be discovered by future generations; the use of special containers, such as stone boxes, in which to hide records; hiding their books in mountains; and the entrusting of those hidden books to the care of angels, who would deliver them to mankind at the appropriate time. The likelihood that the traditions brought forth in these recent discoveries were known to Joseph Smith, a New England farmboy, is virtually nil.

     In his introduction to Tvedtnes' book, H. Curtis Wright notes, "Tvedtnes shows perhaps fifty things about ancient records that must have been hilarious in 1830 but make perfect sense today." [John Tvedtnes, The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: Out of Darkness unto Light, pp. xi, 3-6, 22]

 

Mormon 8:17 And If There Be Faults They Be the Faults of a Man. But Behold, We Know No Fault:

 

     Joseph Smith said the following in regards to the correctness of the Book of Mormon:

           I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.

[Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 194]

     Note* Before anyone starts to bolster a geographical, cultural, or chronological argument with a supposed "mistake" in the text of the Book of Mormon, they would do well to ponder this verse and this quote. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mormon 8:22-23 The Eternal Purposes of the Lord Shall Roll On, until All His Promises Shall Be fulfilled. Search the Prophecies of Isaiah:

 

     Michael King writes that in the Old World, as the house of Israel was in the midst of destruction and dispersion, the Lord promised through his prophet Isaiah that in an "acceptable time," he would hear them, and "in a day of salvation," he would help them and preserve them, give them "for a covenant of the people," and cause them to "inherit the desolate heritages." The Lord promised them, "I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted" (Isaiah 49:8, 11). The "mountains" of the Lord would provide "a way" for all of Israel to one day receive the covenant.

     In the New World, as a witness of the destruction of his own people, but being one who understood the covenant, Moroni boldly declared: "The eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled. Search the prophecies of Isaiah" (Mormon 8:21-23). Moroni saw in the writings of Isaiah the Lord's plan to keep his covenant with a people that had been defeated and destroyed. Nephi, Jacob, and the Savior also used the writings of Isaiah to explain God's intent to fulfill his covenant with the house of Israel.

     A study of Isaiah and the commentary provided by Book of Mormon prophets shows that four main threads are instrumental in the Lord's plan to fulfill his covenant. First, many of the house of Israel will die before receiving the covenant; second, Christ must come and open the way for all people to be taught the gospel and enter into the presence of God; third, "mountains" will provide a way whereby all, including the dead, may be brought forth to receive the covenant; and fourth, the Gentiles of the latter days will be instrumental in helping ancient Israel receive the covenant. [Michael L. King, "Isaiah's Vision of God's Plan to Fulfill His Covenant," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, pp. 162-164]

 

Mormon 8:34 The Lord Hath Shown unto Me Great and Marvelous Things concerning . . . That Day When These Things Shall Come Forth among You:

 

     In some of the last words that Mormon wrote, he spoke to the people of the latter days. In Mormon 8:34-35 he says the following:

           Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that . . . day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

 

     What are some of the "great and marvelous things" that were to happen at the time of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon? Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy has said, "we need to get some perspective of history." He pointed out that the quickest Adam and Eve could communicate or travel over long distances was by horse. Almost 6,000 years later, the fastest Joseph Smith could communicate or travel was by horse. No progress in travel in almost 6,000 years of history! But beginning with the Restoration, the Lord began to pour out his Spirit and unveil modern inventions that have enabled us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. (Joe J. Christensen, "Of Laughter, Light, and Love," CES Young Adult Fireside in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, 19 Sept. 1993)

     Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, "I do not believe for one moment that these discoveries have come by chance, or that they have come because of superior intelligence possessed by men today over those who lived in ages that are past. They have come and are coming because the time is ripe, because the Lord has willed it, and because he has poured out his Spirit on all flesh." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, Oct. 1926, 117)

[Quoted in W. Jeffrey Marsh, "Training from the Old Testament: Moroni's Lessons for a Prophet," Ensign, August 1998, p. 15] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 21:9]

 

Mormon 8:37 (Antimetabole):

 

     According to Donald Parry, parallelism is universally recognized as the characteristic feature of biblical Hebrew poetry. (p. i) Apparently, the prophets and writers of the scriptures employed the repetition of alternating parallel lines for the purpose of reinforcing their teachings and doctrines. (p. x)

     Antimetabole (Greek, "to throw against in a reverse way") is a poetic style which throws or compares one subject or idea against another, for the purpose of creating a contrast between the two ideas. (p. xxxii)      A good example of Antimetabole is found in Mormon 8:37:

And your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.

1. For behold, ye do love

    2. money,

     and your substance,

     and your fine apparel,

     and the adornment of your churches,

1. more than ye love

    2. the poor

     and the needy,

     the sick

     and the afflicted

[Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, p. 448]

 

Mormon 8:39 (Synonymia):

 

     According to Donald Parry, parallelism is universally recognized as the characteristic feature of biblical Hebrew poetry. (p. i) Apparently, the prophets and writers of the scriptures employed the repetition of alternating parallel lines for the purpose of reinforcing their teachings and doctrines. (p. x)

     When a group of three or more words, similar in sense but not identical in meaning, come together in a verse or passage with characteristics which parallel one another, this is called synonymia, or "synonymous words." (p. xlix) A good example of Synonymia is found in Mormon 8:39:

Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life,

     and yet suffer the hungry,

     and the needy,

     and the naked,

     and the sick,

     and the afflicted.

[Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, p. 448]