Moroni 10

 

A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni


 

 

Moroni 10:1 More Than 420 Years Have Passed Away:

 

     In Moroni 10:1, Moroni states that "more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ." Just how much time beyond 420 years is not mentioned, but the year was most probably 421 A.S. It is interesting to ponder whether this apparent impreciseness of Moroni regarding the exact ending of the year might not be related to the radical change of seasons in North America (New York) as compared with Mesoamerica. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up These Records:

 

     If Moroni hid up the records in the same hill as Mormon, then why were the plates of Moroni in a stone box and not with the other plates that Mormon hid up? Why would Mormon (and Moroni) make an abridgement (Mormon 8:5-6) if all the Nephite records would be available to the prophet Joseph Smith in this same hill?

     The following are verses related to the completion of the Book of Mormon:

 

Mormon 6:5      385 A.S.

Mormon 6:6      Mormon hides up the records, and "gave these few plates" to Moroni

Mormon 7:10      Mormon says "Amen" to his teachings

Mormon 8:1      Moroni finishes the record of Mormon

           Moroni has a "few things to write" as "commanded by Mormon

Mormon 8:4      Moroni will "write" and "hide up the records" "and wither I go it mattereth not."

Mormon 8:6      401 A.S.

Mormon 9:37      Moroni says "Amen" to his teachings

Ether 1:1      Moroni gives an account of Ether from 24 gold plates

Ether 4:19      Moroni says "Amen" to his teachings

Ether 5:6      Moroni says "Amen" to his teachings

Ether 12:41      Moroni says "Amen" to his teachings

Ether 13:1      Moroni proceeds

Ether 15:34      Moroni finishes the book of Ether

Moroni 1:1,4      Moroni had not "supposed he would write more" but will write "a few more things"

           A. Chapters 2,3,4,5,6 = Moroni's teachings

           B. Chapters 7,8,9 = Mormon's teachings

Moroni 10:1      421 A.S.

Moroni 10:2      Moroni to "seal up" the records after a few words

Moroni 10:34      Moroni says "Amen"

 

     The following questions arise:

     How long beyond 401 A.S. did it take Moroni to finish his father's book (the book of Mormon) and abridge the record of Ether?

     In view of Moroni's apparent access to original records, was he close to, or did he repeatedly visit the hill Cumorah up until 421 A.S.?

     Does the word "Amen" have any significance beyond just reaffirming what has just been taught?

     Does the fact that Moroni only mentions the word "seal" at 421 A.S. mean that Moroni's work was continuous up to that point, or had he "sealed up" the records before without noting it?

     While Moroni mentions "sealing up" the record, he doesn't mention burying the record, or hiding the record in the same verses. However, in Mormon 8:4,14 Moroni says that he "will hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not". Do the words "seal up" (Moroni 10:2) mean that Moroni IS going to bury the plates at that time, or is he saying that he WILL bury the plates in the future? In other words, did Moroni bury the plates when he "sealed" them up? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up These Records:

 

     John Tvedtnes notes that like other aspects of hidden documents, the practice of sealing records is known not only from the Book of Mormon but from other ancient Near Eastern texts. Sealed documents are designed to serve as legal testimony, usually for future generations, and it is perhaps in this light that we should understand some of Moroni's comments in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon. Moroni first noted, "I seal up these records" (Moroni 10:2), then informed his future audience how they can know the truth of those records by asking God (see Moroni 10:3-5).; After some words of exhortation, Moroni writes: "Ye shall see me at the bar of God . . . and God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true." (Moroni 10:27-29)

     According to Tvedtnes, the ancient Mesopotamians made two copies of legal documents, such as contracts, one open for public consultation and the other sealed to prevent tampering with the official record. The practice of preparing two copies, one sealed and one open, is also known from ancient Israel, as described in the Bible and other early Jewish texts. For example, in Jasher 27:12-14 we read that Jacob's purchase of the birthright in exchange for the pottage was formally documented: "And Jacob wrote the whole of this in a book, and he testified the same with witnesses, and he sealed it, and the book remained in the hands of Jacob."154 Later, after returning from Syria, Jacob wrote a book of purchase for the property agreement he had struck with Esau after Isaac died.155 He put it with "the command and the statutes and the revealed book, and he placed them in an earthen vessel in order that they should remain for a long time and he delivered them into the hands of his children" (Jasher 47:29).156 When Esau's family later challenged the right of Jacob's sons to bury their father in the cave, the Israelites produced "all the records; the record of the purchaser, the sealed record and the open record, and also all the first records in which all the transactions of the birth-right are written" (Jasher 56:57;157 The story is also found in TB Sotah 13a, Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer 39, and Rashi on Genesis 49:21).

     The contrast between sealed and open purchase records intended to be preserved is also made in Jeremiah 32, from which the Jasher account may have borrowed. Jeremiah's cousin Hanameel asked him to purchase a field,158 and Jeremiah drew up "the evidence of the purchase" and "sealed it" after having witnesses sign the document. He then instructed his scribe, Baruch, "Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days." The prophet used this event to prophesy that the people of Judah would, after their captivity in Babylon, return to possess their lands once again (see Jeremiah 32:8-15, 44; compare 13:3-11; 19:1, 10-11). [John Tvedtnes, The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: Out of Darkness unto Light, pp. 65-70] [See 2 Nephi 27:10-11, 15, 21] [See the commentary on Moroni 10:29]

 

Moroni 10:2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words (Illustration): Moroni Burying the Plates. Artist: Jon McNaughton. [L.D.S. Church, The Ensign, September 1995, inside back cover]

 

Moroni 10:2 I [Moroni] seal up these records (Illustration): Moroni Hides the Plates in the Hill Cumorah [or the hill in New York]. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #320]

 

Moroni 10:2 I [Moroni] seal up these records (Illustration): Moroni Burying the Plates [Gary E. Smith, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 3]

 

Moroni 10:2 And I seal up these records (Illustration): Moroni Burying the Plates. Artist: Jon McNaughton. [L.D.S. Church, The Ensign, September 1995, inside back cover]

 

Moroni 10:2 And I seal up these records (Illustration): Moroni Burying the Plates. Artist: Clark Kelley Price. [L.D.S. Church, The Ensign, June 1987, p. 27]

 

Moroni 10:2 And I seal up these records (Illustration): Moroni Burying the Record. Artist: Clark Kelley Price. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 617]

 

Moroni 10:2 And I seal up these records (Illustration): Moroni Burying the Plates. Moroni buried the gold plates and other sacred objects in the Hill Cumorah. Artist: Clark Kelley Price. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 599]

 

Moroni 10:2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words (Illustration): The New York Hill Cumorah. Artist: Alfred Lambourne. [L.D.S. Church, The Ensign, November 1981, inside back cover]

 

Geographical Theory Map: Moroni 10:2 Moroni Seals Up the Record for the Last Time (421 A.S.?)

 

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up This Record (Stone Box):

 

     According to Diane Wirth, in their book, America's Ancient Civilizations, Hyatt and Ruth Verrill tell of a Maya book containing the complete history of their ancestors. This book is said to have been inscribed on gold plates. The Verrills write concerning this record, "According to traditions a complete history of the Maya was recorded in the Golden Book of the Mayas which, if it actually existed, as it probably did, was so carefully hidden to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Spaniards that it never has been found."

     Harold Wilkins reported that the Indians of Chiapas, Mexico claimed their people were in possession of a record written by their ancestors and engraved on gold leaves. This book was supposedly concealed in vaults of some ancient city at the time of the Conquest.

     Robert Wauchope (Lost Tribes and Sunken Continents) relates that "on her deathbed, Alice Le Plongeon (wife of Augustus Le Plongeon) turned over to an intimate friend many of her husband's drawings and notes and evidently tried to tell the location of another spectacular discovery they claimed to have made and covered again in 1875 -- some underground rooms containing stone boxes holding perfectly preserved ancient records of the Maya." [Diane E. Wirth, A Challenge to the Critics, p. 43]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up this record [stone box] (Illustration): Stone box displayed at Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. (Photo by Diane E. Wirth) [Diane E. Wirth, A Challenge to the Critics, p. 44]

 

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up This Record (Stone Box):

 

     David Whitmer, in an interview with P. Wilhelm Poulson in 1878, said, "I saw the place where the plates were found, and a great many did so, and it awakened an excitement at the time . . . Poulson asked, "How did the place look?" Whitmer replied, "It was a stone box, and the stones looked to me as if they were cemented together. That was on the side of the hill, and a little down from the top."159 159

     According to John Tvedtnes, the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated were not the first sacred text known to have been kept in a box. A large number of documents and archaeological discoveries confirm the antiquity of the practice, which predated Moroni by centuries. Records were kept in arks and foundation stones, as well as in boxes made of stone, metal, and earthenware.

     According to Hebrews 9:4, the ark of the covenant constructed in Moses' day held "the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant." That the tables of the law were kept in the ark is confirmed in Deuteronomy 10:1-5 and 1 Kings 8:9 (= 2 Chronicles 5:10). The ark evidently held other records as well, for we read in Deuteronomy 31;26 that the Lord told Moses, "Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee." In the introduction to his Mishneh Torah, the twelfth century Jewish rabbi Maimonides commented on Deuteronomy 31:26. He noted that Moses had inscribed thirteen copies of the Pentateuch, then delivered one to each of the twelve tribes of Israel and placed the master copy in the ark.160 Petirat Mosheh, recounting the same story, notes that the angel Gabriel took this thirteenth scroll and brought it to the heavenly court.161

     To this day, Jews and Samaritans alike keep the scroll of the Torah (law) of Moses in a cabinet known as an ark. It is typically covered with a small curtain representing the veil that separated the holy of holies of the ancient temple or tabernacle (where the original ark of the covenant was kept) from the rest of the sanctuary. While some of this symbolism is not present in Joseph Smith's account of the hiding place of the plates, the stone box in which they were deposited clearly served the same purpose as the ark in Moses's day. The two receptacles are also alike in that in addition to the records, each contained other sacred artifacts. [John Tvedtnes, The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: Out of Darkness unto Light, pp. 33-33, 35]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records (stone boxes) [Illustration]: Many Ancient Cultures Have Buried Records in Stone Boxes. Old World Records: Engraved plates of gold and silver were found buried in a stone box in the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia dating from the same century in which Lehi left Jerusalem. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust, p. 230]

 

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up This Record (Stone Box):

 

     According to Joseph Allen, another point of interest is that the stone box in which the Prophet Joseph Smith found the gold plates is not like the stone boxes in Mesoamerica. The stone boxes in Mexico consist of one piece with the center carved out, as shown (see illustration). Joseph Smith described the stone box in which the gold plates were found as follows: . . . the box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them. (Joseph Smith--History 1:52) This verse simply suggests that Moroni had carried the plates to an area (New York) where the Lord inspired him to go. Moroni did not have a stone box with him, nor would he have had the tools with which to carve the stone box. He also would have had as difficult task of finding the type of volcanic stone that is used in Mesoamerica for stone boxes. However, coming from the Mesoamerican environment, Moroni would have wanted to safeguard the records in a stone box. Having a knowledge of cement, he would have built the box in the manner in which Joseph Smith described it. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 345]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up this record (Stone box) [Illustration]: Stone Box [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 346]

 

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up this Record (Metal Plates in a Stone Box):

 

     John Tvedtnes cites evidence concerning metal plates in stone boxes at a time that might suggest that the practice was common among the cultures from which the Book of Mormon peoples derived. The Assyrian king Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) repeats throughout his annals that he kept records on plates of gold, silver, bronze, and lead. During excavations of his palace at Khorsabad, six small inscribed plates (gold, silver, bronze, tin, and lead, with one alabaster) were found in a stone box buried beneath the palace foundation. Two of the plates and the box were lost during the sinking of a ship on the Tigris River in Iraq on May 23, 1855. The four surviving plates, of gold, silver, , bronze, and tin, were taken to France and are housed in the Louvre in Paris. [John A. Tvedtnes, "Hidden Records," in The Most Correct Book, p. 27]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records (stone box) [Illustration]: Foundation tablets deposited in a stone box at Nippur by the Babylonian King Nabopolassar (626-605 B.C.), British Museum] [F.A.R.M.S. Staff, "Lands Of The Book Of Mormon," Slide #106]

 

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up These Records (Box):

 

     According to Reed Putnam, Joseph Smith said, "In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them." In view of this elevated setting on stone in a cemented stone box, one might ask, Did Moroni intend merely to hide the plates, or did he intend to preserve them also? The phrase "I seal up these records" (Moroni 10:1-2) could not have referred to the so-called sealed portion of the plates, but rather to the disposition of the entire stack. The sealing, then, must refer to the box in which the plates were deposited. Moroni was careful that no dirt or water should get to the plates, knowing that under certain conditions they could be damaged or destroyed. The title page of the Book of Mormon also indicates that the plates were "sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed." [Reed Putnam, Were the Gold Plates Make of Tumbaga?," The Improvement Era, Sept. 1966: 788-9, 828-31. Reprint by F.A.R.M.S., pp. 3-4]

 

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up These Records:

 

     Kirk Henrichsen has compiled the following list of statements made by witnesses describing the "records" (Moroni 10:1-2) which Joseph Smith received from Moroni:

 

Material:      

     "the appearance of gold (Joseph Smith Jr., Eight Witnesses, Orson Pratt)162

     "golden plates" (David Whitmer)163

     "a mixture of gold and copper" (William Smith) 164

 

Weight:

     "weighing altogether from forty to sixty lbs." (Martin Harris)165

     "I was permitted to lift them. . . . They weighed about sixty pounds according to the best of my judgment. (William Smith)166

     "I . . . judged them to have weighed about sixty pounds." (William Smith)167

     "They were . . . as near as I could tell, about sixty pounds." (William Smith)168

     "I hefted the plates, and I knew from the heft that they were lead or gold." (Martin Harris)169

     "My daughter said, they were about as much as she could lift. They were now in the glass-box, and my wife said they were very heavy. They both lifted them." (Martin Harris)170

     "I moved them from place to place on the table, as it was necessary in doing my work." (Emma Smith)171

     "[While dusting, she] hefted those plates [which were covered with a cloth] and found them very heavy." (H. S. Salisbury, paraphrasing Joseph's sister Catherine Smith Salisbury)172

 

Individual Plate Dimensions:

     "six inches wide by eight inches long" (Joseph Smith Jr.)173

     "seven inches wide by eight inches in length" (Martin Harris)174

     "seven by eight inches" (Martin Harris)175

     "about eight inches long, seven inches wide" (David Whitmer)176

     "not far from seven by eight inches in width and length" (Orson Pratt)177

 

Thickness of Each Plate:

     "of the thickness of plates of tin" (Martin Harris)178

     "thin leaves of gold" (Martin Harris)179

     "about as thick as parchment" (David Whitmer)180

     "not quite as thick as common tin" (Orson Pratt)181

     "[We] could raise the leaves this way (raising a few leaves of the Bible before him)." (William Smith)182

     "They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metalic [sic] sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book." (Emma Smith)183

 

Volume Thickness:

     "something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed" (Orson Pratt)184

     "[W]hen piled one above the other, they were altogether about four inches thick." (Martin Harris)185

 

Sealed and Unsealed Portions:

     "A large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together that it was impossible to separate them." (David Whitmer)186

     "What there was sealed appeared as solid to my view as wood. About the half of the book was sealed." (David Whitmer)187

     "[A]bout two-thirds were sealed up, and Joseph was commanded not to break the seal; that part of the record was hid up. (Orson Pratt)188

     "Joseph was not permitted to translate it, neither to break the seal of the book" (Orson Pratt)189

 

Rings and Binding Format:

     "[T]hey were fastened with rings thus [a sketch shows a ring in the shape of a capital D with six lines drawn through the straight side of the letter to represent the leaves of the record]." (David Whitmer)190 [See illustration #1]

     "bound together like the leaves of a book by massive rings passing through the back edges" (David Whitmer)191

     "They were bound together in the shape of a book by three gold rings." (David Whitmer)192

     "put together on the back by three silver rings, so that they would open like a book" (Martin Harris)193

     "bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings running through the whole" (Orson Pratt)194

     "Through the back of the plates were three rings, which held them together, and through which a rod might easily be passed, serving as a greater convenience for carrying them" (Orson Pratt)195

 

Reading Order:

     "I wish to mention here that the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general." (Joseph Smith Jr.)196 [See illustration #2]

 

Characters, Text, and Plate Surface:

     "[The plates] were filled with . . . Egyptian characters. . . . The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving." (Joseph Smith Jr., Orson Pratt)197

     "There were fine engravings on both sides." (John Whitmer)198

     "We also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship." (Eight Witnesses)199

     "[T]he characters . . . were cut into the plates with some sharp instrument." (William Smith)200

     "Upon each side of the leaves of these plates there were fine engravings, which were stained with a black, hard stain, so as to make the letters more legible and easier to read." (Orson Pratt)201

 

(Note* The following statements are based on transcriptions of the characters)

     "It [Joseph's transcription of characters from the plates] consisted of all kinds of singular characters disposed in columns, . . . Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes; roman letters inverted or placed sideways were arranged and placed in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle, divided into various compartments, arched with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican calendar." (Charles Anthon)202 [However see illustration #3]

     "The characters were arranged in columns, like the Chinese mode of writing, . . . Greek, Hebrew and all sorts of letters, more or less distorted, . . . were intermingled with sundry delineations of half moons, stars, and other natural objects and the whole ended in a rude representation of the Mexican zodiac." (Charles Anthon)203 [However, see illustration #4]

     "[Martin Harris] was in the habit of exhibiting to his hearers what he claimed to be a fac simile [sic] copy of the title page of the forthcoming book [Book of Mormon]." One who saw this copy said, "On it were drawn rudely and bunglingly, concentric circles, between, above and below, which were characters, with little resemblance to letter. (Charles W. Brown)204 [However see illustration]

 

[Kirk B. Henrichsen (comp.), "How Witnesses Described the 'Gold Plates'," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, pp. 16-21]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records [Illustration]: A listing of statements by witnesses describing the "records" divided up in the following categories. (1) Material; (2) Weight; (3) Individual Plate Dimensions; (4) Thickness of Each Plate; (5) Volume Thickness; (6) Sealed and Unsealed Portions; (7) Rings and Binding Format; (8) Reading Order; (9) Characters, Text, and Plate Surface. [Kirk B. Henrichsen (comp.), "How Witnesses Described the 'Gold Plates'," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, pp. 16-21]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records [Illustration #1]: In 1877 Edward Stevenson interviewed David Whitmer, age 72, who recounted the story that his mother, Mary Musselman Whitmer, told him of being shown the plates by a heavenly messenger. Whitmer presumably drew the simple diagram, which Stevenson copies into his diary. [Kirk B. Henrichsen (comp.), "How Witnesses Described the 'Gold Plates'," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, pp. 16-21]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records [Illustration #2]: This conjectural reconstruction shows how the title page, the last plate written on in the Book of Mormon, could also appear as the first plate in the record.

[Kirk B. Henrichsen (comp.), "How Witnesses Described the 'Gold Plates'," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, pp. 16-21]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records [Illustration #3]: This is the only surviving copy of the characters from the gold plates. Because the characters are not arranged in columns, this is apparently not the transcription that Anthon saw. [Kirk B. Henrichsen (comp.), "How Witnesses Described the 'Gold Plates'," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, pp. 16-21]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records [Illustration #4]: Count Alexander von Humboldt published this drawing in 1814 of the Aztec Calendar Stone, which had been discovered in 1790. This is the only "Mexican calendar" that Anthon could have seen in Humboldt's work. [Kirk B. Henrichsen (comp.), "How Witnesses Described the 'Gold Plates'," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, pp. 16-21]

 

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up These Records (Size):

 

     Concerning the size of the records which Moroni sealed up (Moroni 10:1-2), Robert F. Smith notes that Joseph himself gave us the length, width, and thickness of the whole set of plates as 6" x 8" x 6" in his famous Wentworth Letter. (B.H. Roberts, ed., History of the Church, 4:537; compare Evening and Morning Star, 1:8, 58b) . . . Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer all suggested that the plates were "not quite as thick as common tin." (Times and Seasons 3 (March 1, 1842): 707; Chicago Times (Jan. 24, 1888), p. 8, col. 1.) By doing some calculations, Smith estimates that the six-inch collection would have contained between 120 and 200 plates. [Robert F. Smith, "The 'Golden Plates,'" in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 275-276]

     Note* Jerry Ainsworth writes that the prophet Joseph Smith kept the plates in a wooden laptop desk (see illustration). The desk was only four inches high at the front and six at the back and yet had space for the plates, as well as the Urim and Thummim and breastplate (1989 Seminary Manual, 44). A set of plates six inches thick would not have fit into the box Joseph Smith used to hide them. The reference to "near six inches in thickness" must therefore describe the plates with their rings. The rings holding the plates together were probably six inches high, while the plates themselves were not so thick. This is in agreement with how the Prophet described them. "They were . . . bound together in a volume . . . with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness" (History of the Church, 4:537; emphasis added). The six inches refers to the complete set, rings and all, not the plates themselves.

     James E. Talmage is one of the few to catch this distinction between the thickness of the volume as opposed to the thickness of the plates. He states that the plates "were fastened together by three rings running through the plates near one edge; together [the plates and rings] formed a book nearly six inches in thickness. (Articles of Faith, 262-63) [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp.235-236, 239-240]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records (Size) [Illustration]: Replica of laptop desk used by Joseph Smith to conceal the plates. It is four inches deep in the front and six inches deep in the back. Replica compliments of Bud Stone. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p.234]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records (Size) [Illustration]: Replica of laptop desk, containing models of the gold plates, the breastplate, and the Urim and Thummim. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p.235]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records (Size) [Illustration]: In this wooden box, Josoeph kept the Book of Mormon plates. The inside of the box measures 141/4" x 161/4". The depth is 61/4" sloping to 4". The lid and bottom are walnut, and the sides are made from boxwwod. The box was originally Samuel Smith's lap desk. In the possesssion of Emeritus Church Patriarch Eldred G. Smith. [Daniel H. Ludlow, S. Kent Brown, and John W. Welch selection eds., To All the World: The Book of Mormon Articles from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, F.A.R.M.S., p. 34]

 

Moroni 10:1-2 I Seal Up These Records (Weight & Composition):

 

     Joseph Smith described the plates as follows:

           These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. (History of the Church, 4:537)

 

     According to Reed Putnam, the term "appearance of gold" probably means that the plates were yellow in color but not pure gold. Tumbaga is an alloy of gold and copper, the only two colored metals known to man. The early American smiths used the alloy of tumbaga extensively. It ranged in content from 97 percent gold to the same proportion of copper, with several trace metals as impurities and silver as an impurity or deliberate alloy up to 18 percent.

     Tumbaga, the magic metal, can be cast, drawn, hammered, gilded, soldered, welded, plated, hardened, annealed, polished, engraved, embossed, and inlaid. Once the gilding was applied, the result to the eye alone would be gold. Yet with all this versatility, tumbaga will destroy itself if it is improperly alloyed, improperly stored, or improperly finished. The plates themselves would have presented a solid gold surface to the eye, yet they would have weighed as little as half as much as pure gold. A block of tumbaga of the dimensions indicated for the plates of the Book of Mormon and with 8-carat alloy and 3-percent native impurity would weigh 106.88 pounds. But the plates would weigh much less than a solid block of the same metal. The unevenness left by the hammering and air spaces between the separate plates would reduce the weight to probably less than 50 percent of the solid block. Thus the weight of the stack of plates would be about 53 pounds.

     If Mormon and Moroni hammered the plates to a thickness of .02 of an inch with a 23-carat gilded surface of .0006 of an inch, the resulting hardness would have been 30 Brinells to the engravers tool while the center of the plate maintained a Brinell of 80 or above. While the exact size of the engravings, or glyphs, and the distance between them and between the lines are not known, Putnam has a specimen of hand-engraved work in English that is very legible and in which the lower-case letters are less the 1/16 of an inch in height. [Reed Putnam, Were the Gold Plates Make of Tumbaga?," The Improvement Era, Sept. 1966: 788-9, 828-31. Reprint by F.A.R.M.S., pp. 3-4]

     Note* According to John Sorenson, a tumbaga specimen from Belize (British Honduras) shows that this material was known in the Maya lowlands no later than the fifth century A.D.205 [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 283]

 

Moroni 10:2 I seal up these records (Weight & Composition) [Illustration]: It is of interest that tumbaga was commonly gilded by applying citric acid to the surface. The resulting chemical reaction eliminated copper atoms from the outer .0006 inch of the surface, leaving a microscopic layer of 23-carat gold that made the object look like it was wholly gold. (Reed H. Putnam, "Were the Plates of Mormon of Tumbaga?" The Improvement Era, Sept. 1966: 788-9, 828-31, Reprint by FARMS; and Heather Lechtman, "Pre-Columbian Surface Metallurgy," Scientific American 250 (June 1984): 56-63)

     In the process of depletion gilding, the particles of gold and copper that are uniformly distributed throughout the alloy are exposed to an open flame, which causes the copper to turn black. The copper is then removed by a mildly acidic "pickle," such as a citrus extract. When heated and polished, the remaining surface particles compress and form a thin layer of pure gold. ["Of What Material Were the Plates," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, p. 21]

 

Moroni 10:2 I Seal Up These Records:

 

     There are a few verses in Moroni's writings which might have bearing on where the last battles were fought, where the hill Cumorah was, and where Mormon "sealed up" (Mormon 10:2) the record. In order to evaluate the verses, the reader is referred to Appendix A and Appendix B.

Moroni 10:3 When Ye Shall Receive These Things . . . Ponder It in Your Hearts:

 

     John and Gregory Welch note that Neal A. Maxwell once quoted philosopher Austin Farrer in an article entitled "Discipleship and Scholarship." The quote is as follows:

           Though argument does not create conviction, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish. (Quoted by Neal A. Maxwell in "Discipleship and Scholarship," BYU Studies 32/3 (1992): 5. The statement also appears in Austin Farrer, "The Christian Apologist," in Light on C. S. Lewis, ed. Jocelyn Gibb (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1965).

[John W. Welch & J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., Chart 8]

Moroni 10:3 When Ye Shall Read These Things . . . Ponder It in Your Hearts:

 

     For the Book of Mormon student who has pondered the multiple facets of culture, history, geography, doctrine, covenant relationships, language, etc. that are an integral part of the Book of Mormon story, the following bit of information has been adapted from an article on the internet entitled, "Is the Book of Mormon Really an Ancient Book?

     If I offered you literally "a billion to one odds - in your favor" would you take it? Some of the cultural commentary which you have just finished is so obscure and so exact that 50/50 odds that anyone could spontaneously come up with it are laughable. But just for fun, let's assume first that Joseph Smith authored the Book of Mormon, and second that on each of the hundreds of cultural items contained in the text of the Book of Mormon Joseph had a 50/50 chance of guessing what to write from a correct historical, covenantal, cultural, geographical, chronological, and editorial perspective (to say nothing of the huge task of correlating doctrinal messages). What then are the odds against such guesses? Well . . . . .

     1 consecutive guess at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 2

     2 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 4

     3 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 8

     4 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 16

     5 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 32

     6 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 64

     7 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 128

     8 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 256

     9 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 512

     10 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 1,024

     11 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 2,048

     12 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 4,096

     13 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 8,192

     14 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 16,000+

     15 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 32,000+

     16 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 64,000+

     17 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 128,000+

     18 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 256,000+

     19 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 512,000+

     20 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 1 million+

     21 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 2 million+

     22 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 4 million+

     23 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 8 million+

     24 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 16 million+

     25 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 32 million+

     26 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 64 million+

     27 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 128 million+

     28 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 256 million+

     29 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 512 million+

     30 consecutive guesses at 50/50 odds has a probability of 1 out of 1 billion+

 

We might as well stop here. The odds against even 100 good guesses would strain your credulity.

     If you love truth, if you respect evidence, won't you ask God in honest prayer to manifest to you by the Holy Spirit whether the Book of Mormon is His Holy Word or not?

["Is the Book of Mormon Really an Ancient Book," pp. 18-19, http://www.comevisit.com/lds/bom-evid.htm, 2/15/99]

 

Moroni 10:3 When Ye Shall Read These Things . . . Ponder It in Your Hearts:

 

     According to Warren and Ferguson, the very high ancient culture of Mesoamerica in the second millennium before Christ appeared full blown, with agriculture, cities, ceramics, and textiles. There is nothing primitive underlying this culture from which it developed step by step. If there were Near Eastern people and Israelites in Mesoamerica centuries before Christ was born, they should have left things behind. A list of religious and cultural traits common to both Mesoamerica and the Near East has been prepared (see Appendix B). Many of the elements are uniquely shared by only those two cultures, while other elements are common to other societies also. . . . Study the list carefully. The more complex the element, the less likely the chance of its being invented independently in Mesoamerica. The fewer elements found in Siberia, Alaska, Canada, and the United States, the less likely the probability of transfer by land. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 214]

 

Moroni 10:3 When ye shall read these things . . . ponder it in your hearts (Illustration): A Comparative List of Cultural Traits between Mesoamerica and the Near East (See Appendix B). [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, pp. 215-228]

Moroni 10:4 If . . . [and] . . .:

 

     [See the commentary on Helaman 12:13-21]

Moroni 10:4 He Will Manifest the Truth of It unto You, By the Power of the Holy Ghost:

 

     It is evident that the question of revelation constitutes another of the significant differences between Jews and Mormons. For Mormons, it is at our core; we believe in continuing revelation from God through modern prophets. For Jews, the idea of revelation as Mormons understand it appears so hypothetical as to be meaningless; the last recognized Jewish prophet was in the time of Ezra, who live more than four hundred years before the birth of Jesus. Thus, while God may send a Messiah in his own good time, He is not allowed by the Jews to send any more prophets--either to the Jews or anyone else. Therefore the Mormon might ask of the Jew," If God wished to send you a message, how would He get through to you?"

     Rabbi Leffler's previous answer to this dilemma is very Jewish: "It is not a Jewish question."

     It is also very Jewish to answer a question with another question. He asks of me, "How do you know that the message you say you are receiving from God is really from Him and not the product of human invention?"

     This is a very fair question, but one that can also be answered--in the Jewish fashion--with another question: "How do Jews know that the words of those whom they did and still do recognize as prophets anciently were actually from God and not the product of human invention?" Why did Saul fear the prophet Samuel's warning that he had condemned himself for failing to follow the commands of the Lord? Why did David accept the condemnation of the prophet Nathan because of his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband? Although these men were kings, they recognized and bowed before the words of a prophet.

     Rabbi Leffler's question also deserves a more direct answer. How do Mormons know, how can anyone truly know, that a man is a prophet, and that when he speaks as such, he speaks as the mouthpiece of he Lord? The answers are simple: (1) one must first have an open mind, (2) one must ask of God, that is, pray for an answer, (3) one must have faith that he will receive an answer, and (4) one must not be afraid to receive the answer. All spiritual knowledge comes through this step-by-step process [see Moroni 10:4-5].

     God either is what He is independent of human reasoning, in which case there is only one true God, or else He is whatever men may imagine or desire Him to be, in which case there are many true Gods. There is either one true religion or else all religions are equally true (or false). Jesus of Nazareth was and is the divine Son of God, the Messiah, or He was not and is not. The Book of Mormon is either an ancient document translated by Joseph Smith or it is a nineteenth-century document written by him or some other, unknown author. It may also be "interesting religious literature," as Rabbi Leffler commented to me after reading it, but there is no third choice as to its historicity.

     Rabbi takes issue with these Mormon either/ors because they conflict with the both/and of Judaism, which he explains as meaning that a passage of Scripture (or an ethical/moral question) can have both one meaning and another meaning that is in conflict with it, but that both can be acceptable. That may be in the case of biblical exegesis, but there is a point, as with the questions cited above, at which logic takes over and allows only an either/or conclusion. There is no way to answer any of these questions definitively unless God reveals the answers to us. Mormons affirm that He has done so.

     Jews are dismayed and sometimes angered by these affirmations, including our perceived connection with the House of Israel, which they reject and which Rabbi Leffler regards as "traditional Mormon polemics regarding Judaism." Regrettably from the Mormon standpoint, most Jews will not read the Book of Mormon, or any other Mormon Scripture, and put it to their own personal test, in part because they reject it on a priori grounds. A priori in this case means to reject the Book of Mormon, or any other text, for prior reasons, such as Jewish traditions, unrelated to the text itself. By this form of reasoning the Book of Mormon is not true because it cannot be. And it cannot be true, in Jewish opinion, because it tells of the appearance of Jesus Christ to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas after His crucifixion in Jerusalem, thus confirming His divinity as the Son of God and as the prophesied Messiah. As Rabbi Leffler points out, the concept in many Jewish minds had changed form belief in a personal Messiah to belief in a messianic age when there will be universal peace and well-being. Although the question of the Messiah is not central to Jewish religious concerns, it lies at the heart of our differences. One might almost say that all the other differences between us are merely over details. [Frank J. Johnson and Rabbi William J. Leffler, Jews and Mormons: Two Houses of Israel, pp. 189-195]

Moroni 10:5 And by the Power of the Holy Ghost Ye May Know the Truth of All Things:

 

     John and Gregory Welch write that one of the plainest statements ever made about the roles of the Spirit and scholarly evidence in knowing and stating the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon was made by Elder B. H. Roberts. He stated:

           This [the Holy Ghost] must ever be the chief source of evidence for the truth of the Book of Mormon. All other evidence is secondary to this, the primary and infallible. No arrangement of evidence, however skillfully ordered; no argument, however adroitly made, can ever take its place. . . .

           To be known, the truth must be stated and the clearer and more complete the statement is, the better opportunity will the Holy Spirit have for testifying to the souls of men that the work is true. . . .

           Secondary evidences in support of truth, like secondary causes in natural phenomena, may be of firstrate importance, and mighty factors in the achievement of God's purposes. (B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1909), 2:vi-vii, viii.)

[John W. Welch & J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., Chart 7]

     Note* Is this phenomenon called "the power of the word"? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Moroni 10:5 And by the Power of the Holy Ghost Ye May Know the Truth of All Things:

 

     In Moroni 10:4-5 we find the prophetic promise:

           And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.

           And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

 

     Daniel Peterson makes the following commentary:

           If Joseph Smith really had sixty pounds or so of engraved gold plates, and if there were no historical Nephites, where did he get those plates? Who made them? But if there were plates--and I think that the case for their existence is overwhelming--then it becomes very likely indeed that there were Nephites and that Joseph was actually visited by a real Moroni. I know from conversations with critics of the Book of Mormon that the physical reality of the plates constitutes a serious problem for them, one that many of them would prefer to ignore. But they can't. . . .

           The Book of Mormon has similar power and is easier to talk about. The most remarkable thing to me about the Book of Mormon is that it reads like plausible history. I have read a great deal of history from a number of different cultures, including several in the ancient and medieval Near East. The book of Mormon's account of the development and decline of several ancient peoples seems to me entirely reasonable and true to what I know.206 Yet, if the book's critics are to be believed, it should not. The Book of Mormon should have collapsed decades ago as a transparent fraud, even without the rigorous and often hostile criticism to which it has constantly been subjected. Had this book merely been the work of an unlettered upstate New York yokel and charlatan, it would have collapsed. But it has not, and it fails to show any of the telltale signs of pretense. The Book of Mormon is, for example, sober and realistic, and never strains for effect. . . . when I first read John L. Sorenson's classic book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon,207 the thing that most impressed me was not that the Book of Mormon can believably be related to locations in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, although it can, but that it yields a coherent and consistent geographical picture at all. Again, if the book's critics were correct, it would be a mere mass of confusion. (Fawn Brodie claimed that the Book of Mormon simply gushed forth "like a spring freshet" from the "marvelously fecund imagination" of an unreflective New York farmboy who had never really had a serious thought in his head.)208 . . . [Daniel C. Peterson, "Shall We Not Go On in So Great a Cause?" in Susan E. Black ed. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-Day Scholars, pp. 131-135]

 

Moroni 10:5 And by the Power of the Holy Ghost Ye May Know the Truth of All Things:

 

     In Moroni 10:4-5 we find the prophetic promise:

           And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.

           And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

 

     Richard Holzapfel makes the following commentary:

           I begin my religious education classes at the university with a statement something like this: "I want you to know that there is nothing wrong in saying 'I do not know the answer." I will try to answer your questions honestly and will, on occasion say, 'I do not know.' I have many questions myself about the glorious gospel we have received, but I have no doubts about the message of hope in Christ and the trust in the prophetic leadership of the Church."

           I found a story in Camilla Eyring Kimball's biography that has been very useful to me in dealing with unanswered questions:

                 Camilla had a philosophy about religious problems that helped her children. She said that when things troubled her, she put them on the shelf; later when she looked at them again, some were answered, some seemed no longer important, and some needed to go back on the shelf for another time.209

 

           We cannot answer all the questions of life, let alone academic issues raised in the debate of the so-called marketplace of ideas. We must trust in the Lord with a mature faith that someday we will know the answers to the right questions. Yet, from time to time, we find an answer to a burning question that we may have put on the shelf earlier. These answers confirm our faith and our appreciation for the profound nature of the gospel. . . .

           Some may question the need or even the desire to find external evidences for the Book of Mormon--especially using tentative academic tools such as archaeology . . . Yet readers of the Book of Mormon are exposed to the testimonies of witnesses printed in the front of the book, themselves external evidences. Interestingly enough, the two testimonies are essentially different from one another. The first, signed by three men, is a "spiritual" witness--the witnesses saw an angel and heard a heavenly voice declare the translation was correct. The second testimony, signed by eight men, is a physical witness. The men saw and hefted the plates--no divine voice and no angelic appearance, just the plates.

           The New Testament has similar testimony contained in its pages. The witness of Jesus Christ is based on two separate and distinct experiences--the spiritual testimony and the physical testimony. Peter came to know who Jesus really was through the Spirit (see Matthew 16:16-17). The resurrected Lord stood before the disciples on several occasions and, by "infallible proofs," showed himself alive (see Acts 1:3). Some touched him and others saw him eat--physical evidences of the resurrection.

           The fact that the Lord has provided both types of witnesses suggests that, in his eyes, we cannot make the choice between spiritual testimony and physical testimony an either/or proposition. Both are valid and essential to his divine purposes. [Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, "Questions, but No Doubts," in Susan E. Black ed. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-Day Scholars, pp.186, 188-189]

 

Moroni 10:5 And by the Power of the Holy Ghost Ye May Know the Truth of All Things:

 

     In Moroni 10:4-5 we find the prophetic promise:

           And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.

           And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

 

     Donald Parry states the following:

           The internal framework of the Book of Mormon is indeed complex. The events identified in the book cover a time span of approximately 2,600 years210 and occur in both the Old and New Worlds. The book was written by more than twenty authors, edited and redacted by inspired editors, and translated by a prophet some 1,400 years after the final Nephite prophet hid the gold plates. The work contains the words of both prophet and false prophet, Christ and antichrist, hero and villain. Several languages have influenced the final product, including Adamic, Egyptian, Hebrew, reformed Egyptian, and English. The work contains many literary types--including historical narrative, poetic parallelism, biography, allegory, law code, judgment speech, lamentation, blessing and cursing, prayer, epistle, psalm, and parable. It contains such symbolic figures as metaphor, simile, synecdoche, metonymy, implication, and personification. As in the Bible, prophetic speech forms of various types appear throughout the Book of Mormon. These include the Messenger Formula, Proclamation Formula, Woe Oracle, Oath Formula, Revelation Formula, and Announcement Formula. The final composition of the book as translated by Joseph Smith is a product of several earlier sources, including the brass plates, the record of Lehi, the large plates of Nephi, the small plates of Nephi, the plates of Mormon, and the twenty-four gold plates of Ether. Although the book's goals and purposes are religious, the work treats many of the political, social, geographical, historical, and cultural elements that make up any civilization

           Yet with all of its complexities, the internal consistency of the book is remarkable. . . . Joseph Smith's statement concerning the Book of Mormon is appropriate here: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth."211

           The Book of Mormon "contains 337 proper names and 21 gentilics (or analogous forms) based on proper names."212 Of the 337 proper names, "188 are unique to the Book of Mormon": for example, Abinadi, Amalickiah, Amulek, Morianton, Mormon, Moronihah, Kishkumen, Helaman, Hagoth, Gadianton, Omni, and Riplakish; 149 of the 337 proper names are common to both the Bible and the Book of Mormon: for example, Samuel, Isaiah, Gideon, Benjamin, Aaron, Noah, Shem, Timothy, and Jacob. Typical of the ancient Semitic languages from which the Nephite record is derived, the Book of Mormon does not use surnames213 or attach modern titles to its names, such as Mr. Mrs., Dr., Professor, Reverend, Count, or Earl.214 The names, as transcribed into English language, do not use the letters q,x, or w, 215 nor do the names begin with either the characters W or F,216 a fact shared with the names of the Old Testament. Much can be learned from a study of the names as Paul Hoskisson has shown, for they may provide an indication of the types of languages used by the Nephites, Jaredites, and Lamanites; they present a picture of Book of Mormon civilizations and cultures; and they provide external clues about when the Book of Mormon record developed in the ancient world.217

           George Reynolds218 and Hugh Nibley219 have conducted a number of studies of the history of Book of Mormon names and have shown that some have Hebrew and Egyptian roots and relationships. B. H. Roberts pointed out that there is a "quite marked distinction between Nephite and Jaredite proper names."220 With few exceptions, Jaredite names "end in consonants, while very many of the Nephite names end in a vowel."221

           Robert J. Matthews has created a serviceable who's who of Book of Mormon personalities, wherein he lists several social, political, and religious groupings222 present in the book. He places personalities into categories and lists the following numbers of individuals within each group: four antichrists, twenty-seven Nephite military leaders, two Jaredite prophets, two priests of Noah listed by name, twelve disciples of Christ, four robbers, seven explorers, one harlot, twelve heads of the Church, two leaders of the Jews, twelve judges, eight Lamanite kings, one lawyer, thirty-one Jaredite kings, two Jaredite military leaders, six Lamanite military leaders, eleven missionaries, two Mulekite leaders, nine Nephite kings, a number of Nephite and Lamanite prophets, twenty Nephite record keepers, three shipbuilders, five spies, and ten villains plus several other characters or groups who are unnamed in the record. . . . The record provides thousands of implicit and explicit facts and items about these individuals, both named and unnamed. Yet these facts are always kept straight. Never is an individual described in one way at one point and in another way later, unless the change is explained. . . .

           The Book of Mormon also sets forth a host of historical references, characters, and circumstances that so far are found only within its pages. Consider, for example, the treatment of wars and warfare in the work. The book features fifteen major conflicts, including the "Early Tribal Wars," the "Wars of King Laman's Son," the "War of Amlici," the "Destruction of Ammonihah," the "War of the Ammonite Secession," the "Zoramite War," the "First and Second Amalickiahite Wars," the "Rebellion of Paanchi," the "War of Tubaloth," the "War of Moronihah," the "War of Gadianton and Kishkumen," the "War of Giddianhi and Zemnarihah," the "Rebellion of Jacob," and the three phases of the "Final Nephite Wars."223 The Book of Mormon writers and editors dedicated anywhere from a few verses (Rebellion of Paanchi, Helaman 1:1-13) to twelve chapters (Second Amalickiahite War, Alma 51-62) to each of the major conflicts.

           Students of the Book of Mormon can attach too many of the fifteen major wars approximate dates or seasons, geographical locales, underlying causes, battle tactics, military maneuvers, and final outcomes. Further, individual campaigns and engagements existed within each major war. Within the framework of the fifteen major wars mentioned above, John L. Sorenson has identified more than one hundred distinct conflicts in the record.224 . . . In addition, the record identifies many of the weapons and armor used by different warriors at various times, including the sword, cimeter, bow and arrow, breastplate, shield, head-plate, arm-shield, club, sling, and "all manner of weapons of war" (Alma 2:12).

           Yet with all these details, the presentation of wars and warfare in the Book of Mormon contains a textually consistent account that both recalls historical reality and lacks contradictory elements. From the first battle mentioned in 2 Nephi 5:34 to the final Nephite battle at Cumorah (Mormon 6:5-15), all of the wars and battles are interwoven into the Book of Mormon text to create a harmonious narrative. . . .

           Years ago, Susan Easton Black tabulated all the occurrences of the names and titles of Jesus in the Book of Mormon.225 . . . In all, 101 names or titles of Christ are collectively presented 3,925 times in 6,607 Book of Mormon verses.226 Black's tabulation of the names and titles shows that on average, one name title of Christ appears once every 1.7 verses. . . .

           The Book of Mormon contains not only a great variety of names and titles for Jesus, but also many thousands of personal pronouns that refer to him. . . .

           Beyond the use of deific names, titles, and pronouns in the Nephite record, witnesses of Jesus appear in the form of symbols, presented through such figures of speech as metaphor, simile, synecdoche, metonymy, implication, and personification. . . .

           As noted, by far the most significant personality identified in the book is Jesus Christ, and the weightiest topics pertain to his character, divine mission, and eternal goals. References to Christ serve as an adhesive, binding every verse of the work into a single, integral unit. All other parts of the book serve as appendages to this focus. The topic of Jesus and his mission fits squarely with the stated purpose of the book as listed on the title page and elsewhere in the book. . . .

           From the opening phrase, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents," to the concluding expression, "the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen," the Book of Mormon is textually consistent, internally concordant, and written with integrity. If the reader follows the proper prescriptions, the Holy Ghost will bear witness of the book's truthfulness, and the reader will draw closer to God through reading it and applying its principles.

           My testimony of the divinity and Sonship of Jesus Christ, the calling of the seer Joseph Smith, and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is based upon the Spirit-to-spirit relaying of truth that comes through the operations of the Holy Ghost. This testimony, however, is coupled with a number of internal evidences that convince me of the book's historicity and divinity. The record's textually consistent testimony is but one internal evidence of its truthfulness. . . . [Donald W. Parry, "The Book of Mormon: Integrity and Internal Consistency," in Susan E. Black ed. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-Day Scholars, pp. 210-219]

Moroni 10:6 Whatsoever Thing Is Good Is Just and True:

 

     John Welch notes the following:

           Over and over again, the Book of Mormon has impressed me not only with its antiquity and artistry, but also with its wisdom. It is a profound source of knowledge and perspective. This scripture teaches the gospel in doctrinal passages that are crystal clear and uncannily pertinent both to the minutiae of personal life and to the megatrends of world affairs. The Book of Mormon has taught me in quiet moments such things as the essential requirements of God's plan of salvation, the errors of many tendencies in modern society, and the spiritual ills of contention and disputation. I find it quite remarkable that of the myriad arguments written against the Book of Mormon, hardly any have been directed against its ethical positions or religious teachings.

           Many insights have come when I was least expecting them . . . [for example, one day] I was preparing to deliver a lecture on Alma 32. It suddenly dawned on me that this text says we actually learn by planting within ourselves the seed of faith in Christ (Alma 33:22-23). Alma never says that we learn that the seed is true; rather, we learn that the seed is good. Obviously, it is one thing to know what is true--even Hitler knew a great deal of truth. It is quite another thing to know what is good. As I have become more sensitive to this reality, I have become more aware that truth is worthless if it is not conjoined with a value system. Truth, like any other tool, is morally neutral: a hammer can be used wither to build up or to tear down. For me, the Book of Mormon thoroughly unites the domains of truth and goodness-even explicitly, in Moroni 10:6: "Whatsoever thing is good is just and true." . . .

           The Book of Mormon is indeed rich. The book makes clear and abundant sense, despite its complexity: records existing inside of other records, later passages quoting and interpreting earlier passages, loose ends all tied together, presupposed backgrounds that make perfect sense, and character traits of individuals that are true to life and consistent from one episode to another. How could any author keep all the historical, geographical, chronological, personal, textual, literary, doctrinal, legal, political, and military details, strands, plots, and subplots concurrently in mind in order to dictate the Book of Mormon one time through without notes or a rough draft? Try as many have to explain by whom and how this book was written, Joseph smith's explanation is still the most cogent. [John W. Welch, "Good and True," in Susan E. Black ed. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-Day Scholars, pp. 237-238]

 

Moroni 10:6 Whatsoever Thing Is Good Is Just and True:

 

     Noel B. Reynolds reminds us that:

           Empirical evidences never prove anything absolutely. They can be used only to refute or confirm theories. But to the extent that human knowledge generally depends on empirical evidence, this evidence does provide the same kind of proof we use to support accepted scientific theories.

           Because the Book of Mormon exists as an empirical phenomenon, the relevant theories are those which attempt to explain that existence. There are really only two such theories: (1) that the book is a fraudulent attempt to concoct ancient text, and (2) that the divine intervention of God brought a previously written account of his dealings with men back into circulation.

           Inasmuch as the first theory fails repeatedly tin the best scholarly studies, the second theory is left alone as the only remaining plausible hypothesis.

[Noel B. Reynolds, John L. Sorenson, Arthur Wallace, and Paul R. Cheesman, "External Evidences of Scripture: A Panel," in Paul R. Cheesman and C. Wilfred Griggs, eds., Scriptures for the Modern World, p. 127. See also Matthew B. Brown, All Things Restored: Confirming the Authenticity of LDS Beliefs, p. 229]

Moroni 10:8-17 To One Is Given by the Spirit:

 

     According to Sidney Sperry, Moroni 7-10 contains teachings which so closely parallel passages in 1 Corinthians 12-13 that they constitute a literary problem. We can focus our attention first on Moroni 10:8-17 and its parallel in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. These scriptures deal with gifts of the Spirit which are bestowed on man in various forms. That more than a casual connection exists between these two scriptures is apparent to everyone. . . Next, we will focus on the fact that Moroni 7:45-46 parallel 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 so closely in some respects that they must be accounted for. . . . To be sure, great differences can be found between the two texts, but great likenesses also exist. It is only natural that critics of the Book of Mormon should call our attention to these facts, and explain them by saying that Joseph Smith simply "lifted" the ideas from the New Testament and used them to suit himself. . . .

     Again, we point to the probability that Paul and a Nephite prophet had access to a common body of teaching. Christ was the original author of the great teachings on faith and charity; Mormon and the great apostle to the Gentiles simply adapted the teachings of our Lord common to the Nephites and Jews as seemed good to them. Many sincere persons may be shocked at the suggestion that Paul was not the author of the great ideas underlying 1 Corinthians 13. I recognize that Paul may be credited with a certain originality in presenting them but believe that much, even of the exact phraseology, is due to our Lord who taught the same great doctrines in America and Palestine.

     Nevertheless, the reader might wonder about examples of other Nephite scriptures which have fairly close parallels in the New Testament and antedate Christ. Some examples are: 2 Nephi 33:9 and Matthew 7:13-14; Mosiah 5:8 and Acts 4:12; Mosiah 16:7-8 and 1 Corinthians 15:54-55. . . .

     These quotations emphasize a common Latter-day Saint teaching to the effect that the doctrines of Jesus were given to men from the earliest ages. Christianity was in the world from the beginning. Consequently, many of the teachings of inspired men were bound to be similar to those of Christ in the New Testament. From the words of Jacob:

           For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

           Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name . . . Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy . . . (Jacob 4:4-6)

 

     It is important to realize that certain early scriptures containing Christian teachings, which we do not at present have, were apparently available to Paul. In the citation from 1 Corinthians 15:54 (cited above as similar to Mosiah 16:7-8) it will be noticed that Paul says, "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written." The "word" or "saying" then follows. No single passage of scripture in our possession contains all of this saying. I am aware that most scholars attribute it to Paul's combining Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14. However, the possibility exists that Isaiah and Hosea were both quoting from a still earlier prophecy unknown to us which had the saying substantially as quoted by the apostle. . . .

     We emphasize here the fact that different prophets may have somewhat similar inspiration in dealing with a given subject, and that this inspiration may be expressed in very similar language. [Sidney B. Sperry, "Literary Problems in the Book of Mormon," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 4/1 (Spring 1995, pp. 166-174] [See the commentary on Moroni 7:45-46]; see Volume 6 Appendix C]

Moroni 10:16 And Again, to Another [Is Given by the Spirit of God] the Interpretation of Languages:

 

     John and Gregory Welch note that modern computers have given birth to a new science of analyzing word patterns in documents whose authorship is disputed. By wordprint analysis, it is now possible with a high degree of certainty to tell which suspected authors did not write a given work. Wordprinting is based on the somewhat surprising fact that every author that has been studied thus far subconsciously uses sixty-five identifiable patterns, involving words such as and, the , of, and that, at the raters that, from a statistical standpoint, differ significantly from those of other authors. The higher the number of "rejections" or differences, the less likely it is that the tested samples were written by the same person. (see John L. Hilton, "Wordprints and the Book of Mormon," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, ed. John W. Welch, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 221-226).

     The chart below (see illustration) shows the results of tests that were run by John L. Hilton, comparing writings of Nephi and Alma with the words of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and Solomon Spaulding (the last two men having been proposed by anti-Mormon writers as sources of the Book of Mormon text). In every set comparing the Book of Mormon texts against these three writers, at least seven (and often many more) rejections were measured. These results yield strong statistical evidence that the wordprints of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and Solomon Spaulding are not measurable in the Book of Mormon. [John W. Welch and J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., commentary for Chart 135]

 

Moroni 10:16 And again, to another [is given by the Spirit of God] the interpretation of languages (Illustration): Wordprints and the Book of Mormon. [John W. Welch and J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., Chart 135]

Moroni 10:20-22 The Kingdom of God:

 

     Climactic Hebrew poetry builds progressively on ideas in what is called "staircase parallelism." In Moroni 10:20-22, Moroni not only ascends the staircase of ideas, but descends with dramatic power. According to Gary Hatch, consider the following passage on faith, hope, and charity:

Wherefore, there must be faith

   and if there must be faith there must also be hope

      and if there must be hope there must also be charity

         And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved

            in the kingdom of God

         neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith

      neither can ye if ye have no hope

And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair

   and despair cometh because of iniquity. (Moroni 10:20-22)

 

     Note how Moroni begins coordinate sentences in the same manner to emphasize the relationships among these sentences. . . . These words from a mirror reflection around the word God, the foundations of the gospel--faith, hope, and charity--opposed by Satan's inversion of this trinity--lack of faith, despair, and iniquity. [Gary L. Hatch, "Mormon and Moroni: Father and Son," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, pp. 112-113]

Moroni 10:26 I Speak It according to the Words of Christ:

 

     In the tenth chapter of the book of Moroni, Moroni writes his final testimony concerning Christ. In doing so, he was apparently obedient to the end. According to John Tvedtnes, in verse two of Words of Mormon, Mormon said he hoped that his son Moroni would write "concerning Christ." That hope was realized about 350 pages later when Moroni told important matters concerning to the Savior in Ether 3:17-20 and in 12:7,16-22, and 38-41. At the very end of the whole volume (Mormon 9 and Moroni 2,6,7,10), the son included his own testimony of Christ. [John A. Tvedtnes, "Mormon's Editorial Promises," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, p. 29]

Moroni 10:27 Did I Not Declare My Words unto You, Which Were Written by This Man?:

 

     John Welch states the following:

           An important part of my testimony is that we shall see the Book of Mormon again at the judgment bar of God. As a professor, I watch my students try to figure out what is likely to be on their final exams. Fortunately, the Lord has not left us in the dark on life's final exam. As Moroni closed the book, he wrote: "And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man?" (Moroni 10:27). And King Benjamin bore similar testimony that his words "shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day" (Mosiah 3:24). Interestingly, the book is true to its ancient origins, even down to this concluding element, for it is a long-recognized principle of Jewish law that a person cannot be convicted unless he has been warned in advance. . . .

           Through my study of ancient laws, I have been particularly fascinated by the legal details in the Book of Mormon. One of my favorite examples; is found in the execution of Zemnarihah (3 Nephi 4:28-33). . . . Similar ancient legal concepts and elements are to be found in the trials of Abinadi, Nehor, Alma and Amulek, Korihor, Paanchi, and Seantum, and in the backgrounds of many Book of Mormon narratives. They indicate again that whoever wrote these texts was thoroughly immersed in the social context and jurisprudence of early biblical times--evidence that does not point toward Joseph Smith, but rather invites us to seek elsewhere for the Book of Mormon's authorship. [John W. Welch, "Good and True," in Susan E. Black ed. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-Day Scholars, pp. 240, 236-237]

Moroni 10:27-28 (Narrative Midrash):

 

     According to Angela M. Crowell, narrative midrash occurs where an interpretation or text is added to another scripture text, forming an uninterrupted narrative. Narrative midrash has been identified in the Old testament, as well as the New Testament.

     According to George Wesley Buchanan, Professor of New Testament Studies at Wesley Theological Seminary, "Midrashic composition was more widely practiced in the Hebrew Scriptures than anyone has imagined . . . This method deserves more attention than it has received (1990:32-33)

     In Moroni 10:27-28 the author uses the text of Isaiah 52:1-2; 54:2,4,10 in his exhortation in narrative midrashic form (see illustration). [Angela M. Crowell, "Midrash: Ancient Jewish Interpretation and Commentary," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol 2, p. 29]

 

Moroni 10:27-28 (Narrative Midrash) [Illustration]: [Angela M. Crowell, "Midrash: Ancient Jewish Interpretation and Commentary," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol 2, p. 29]

Moroni 10:28 His Word Shall Hiss Forth:

 

     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that the Bible makes several references to the words hiss and hissing (1 Kings 9:8; 2 Chronicles 29:8; Jeremiah 19:8; 25:9, 18; 50:13; 51:37; Lamentations 2:16). Many readers of the Bible have probably wondered about the meaning of the word. James Strong defines its Hebrew equivalents Sharaq and Sheriqqah as having to do with "a call or scorn," or "a derision." (See "Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary" in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, entry nos. 8319 and 8322.)

     The Book of Mormon strengthens its authenticity by making use of the word hiss some eight times. Consistent with the Hebrew meaning, it is used as "a call" when the Lord hisses (2 Nephi 17:8; 29:2; and Moroni 10:28), and it is used "in scorn" where it mentions that Israel will become a "hiss and a by-word" (1 Nephi 19:14; 3 Nephi 16:9). [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 269]

     Note* Are all these references from Isaiah quotations or prophecies? If so, what does this say about Moroni 10:28? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Moroni 10:29 And God Shall Show unto You, That That Which I Have Written Is True:

 

     John Welch writes that a distinctive legal practice in Israel around 600 B.C. was the use of doubled, sealed, and witnessed documents. These documents had two parts: one was left open for ready access while the other was sealed up for later consultation by the parties or for the conclusive use of a judge in court.

     In an intriguing but only recently understood Old Testament passage, the prophet Jeremiah tells how he bought a field about 590 B.C. from his cousin. In order to memorialize his purchase as permanently as possible, Jeremiah drafted and executed a two-part deed. One part of its text "was sealed according to the law [mitzvah] and custom [hokum]," and the other part of the document "was open" (Jeremiah 32:11 compare v. 14). Jeremiah signed this double document and sealed it, as did several others who witnessed the transaction (see vv. 10, 12). Moreover, Jeremiah took his doubled, sealed document and, in the presence of his witnesses, securely deposited it with both of its parts in a clay jar, "that they may continue many days" (v. 14). Jeremiah's detailed account reflects many interesting legal technicalities that were evidently customary in his day.

     Several archaeological discoveries made in the 20th century shed considerable light on this interesting form of ancient legal documentation. These documents, when recorded on parchment or papyrus, were written on a single sheet, with one literation of the text at the top and another at the bottom. Sometimes the two texts were identical; other times one was an abridgment of the other. Two bronze tablets of the Roman emperor Trajan illustrate how this procedure could be used on plates as well. In that case the full text was written on the open side of the first plate, and then it was repeated in spread-out lettering on the inside faces of the two plates, which were then sealed together.227 Two wooden tablets in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, show that the same practice also could be implemented in other media.

     Sealing such documents was essential, and the manner of sealing was relatively standard. Typically, parchment documents have a horizontal slit from one edge to the middle, between the two texts. The top half was rolled to the middle and folded in at the slit, Three holes were punched from the end of the slit to the other side, and strings were threaded through these holes and wrapped around the rolled-up and folded-over upper portion; on these bands the seals (wax or clay impressions) of the participants were affixed. The manner of sealing metal or wooden documents was functionally the same.

     Witnesses were necessary, and their number could vary. In one Assyrian agreement on a clay tablet from 651 B.C.that documented the sale of a property, 12 witnesses are listed. In Jewish law the Talmud stipulated that "at least three witnesses were required by law."

     When and by whom could these seals be opened? It appears that only a judge or another authorized official could break the seals and open the document. If a dispute arose concerning the correct wording of the open portion of such a contract, a judge could break the seals and compare the sealed portion with the open portion. John the Revelator "wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and read the book" that he beheld, until "the Lion of the tribe of Juda . . . prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof" (Revelation 5:4,5;compare Isaiah 29:11).

     Similarly, Nephi envisioned the final Nephite record as having two parts, one sealed and the other not sealed (2 Nephi 27:8, 15). Furthermore, witnesses were promised; in particular, at least three witnesses were stipulated, while other witnesses could be added to "testify to the truth of the book and the things therein" (v.12). From this one may well conclude that Nephi was familiar with the ancient use of double documents and that he expected his posterity to construct the Nephites' record in a fashion that would conform with that practice. Indeed, its words will serve legal purposes at the final judgment. Moroni himself concluded, "Ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you? . . . And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true" (Moroni 10:27,29). Perhaps one role of the sealed portion of the Nephite record will be to validate the truth of the open portion that the world now has. [John W. Welch, "Doubled, Sealed, and Witnessed Documents," in FARMS Update, no. 147, vol. 21, 2001, pp. 2-3; see also John W. Welch, "Doubled, Sealed, Witnessed Documents: From the Ancient World to the Book of Mormon," in Mormons, Scripture, and the Ancient World, pp. 391-444] [See the commentary on Moroni 10:2]

 

Moroni 10:29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true (Illustration): The process of preparing ancient legal documents involved writing the text in two parts and then sealing one part for future reference. Illustration by Michael Lyon. [John W. Welch, "Doubled, Sealed, and Witnessed Documents," in FARMS Update, no. 147, vol. 21, 2001, pp. 2; see also John W. Welch, "Doubled, Sealed, Witnessed Documents: From the Ancient World to the Book of Mormon," in Mormons, Scripture, and the Ancient World, pp. 391-444]

Moroni 10:30-31 I Would Exhort You to Come unto Christ:

 

     Garold Davis notes that in view of the significance of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, it is perhaps fitting that Moroni should quote from Isaiah as part of his final exhortation and farewell: "And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing [from Isaiah 52:11]. And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion [from Isaiah 52:1]; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever [from Isaiah 54:2], that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled" (Moroni 10:30-31).

     It once again should be emphasized that the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon are not unnecessary duplications of the biblical Isaiah. Rather, they are an inspired, integral part of that sacred text. Although the Book of Mormon Isaiah makes significant corrections to the biblical Isaiah, the greater value lies, first, in the contextual setting [or pattern] in which the doctrines of the covenant of Christ's atoning sacrifice, the prophesied scattering of Israel, and the restoration of the house of Israel in the last days through the instrumentality of the gentiles receive their full and proper emphasis; and, second, in the rich and detailed interpretations given us through the commentaries of Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Abinadi, and the Savior. [Garold N. Davis, "Pattern and Purpose of the Isaiah Commentaries in the Book of Mormon," in Davis Britton ed. Mormons, Scripture, and the Ancient World, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 301-302] [See the commentary on Words of Mormon 1:5]

       Note* To Moroni's words in Moroni 10:30-31 can be added those in Mormon 8:22-23:

           For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled. Search the prophecies of Isaiah. Behold, I cannot write them. Yea, behold I say unto you, that the saints who have gone before me who have possessed this land, shall cry, yea, even from the dust will they cry unto the Lord; and as the Lord liveth he will remember the covenant which he hath made with them. (Mormon 8:22-23)

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Moroni 10:30 Come unto Christ, and Lay Hold upon Every Good Gift:

 

     [See the commentary on Moroni 7:19-25]

Moroni 10:31 Awake, and Arise from the Dust:

 

     According to Richard Rust, the Book of Mormon is prophecy designed specifically and intentionally for our day (see Mormon 8:35; 3 Nephi 26:12; 2 Nephi 3:19). When I say "designed," I mean not only planned with a purpose but shaped artistically so that form and content are totally integrated. . . . I have come to realize that the literary aspects of the Book of Mormon are essential to its purposes. . . . Imagery helps teach memorably and vividly the covenants of the Lord. Imagery also helps show latter-day Lamanites they are not cast off forever. For example, dust is an image associated in the Book of Mormon with captivity, obscurity, destruction, and death. The wicked, Nephi prophesied, would be "brought low in the dust" (1 Nephi 22;23). The power of this metaphor is in the emergence of something precious out of nothingness. We discover that the Book of Mormon itself is prophesied to come "out of the dust" (Moroni 10:27), with other great blessings as well coming from the dust. Echoing Isaiah, Moroni cries: "Arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments" (Moroni 10:31. Laman and Lemuel are exhorted to "arise from the dust" (2 Nephi 1:14), to "awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell" (2 Nephi 1:13). And . . . yet the words of the righteous shall be written" (2 Nephi 26:15), and the Lord God shall speak concerning them "even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust" (2 Nephi 26:16). In other words, latter-day Lamanites shall obtain renewal through repentance from a voice considered dead; life shall come out of death, words of eternal life from the voice out of the dust. [Richard D. Rust, "The Book of Mormon, Designed for Our Day," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, 1990, pp. 2,16]

Moroni 10:31 Put on Thy Beautiful Garments . . . Strengthen Thy Stakes and Enlarge Thy Borders Forever:

 

     Jerald Simon writes that in Moroni's concluding chapter of his book of Moroni, we find the elements of ancient covenant treaties, except in this case, like so many of the Old Testament prophets before him, Moroni's one constant hope was rooted in the latter days. Moroni had been the custodian of the plates for thirty-five years. He knew exactly how much space he had left on the plates and perhaps had been thinking for nearly twenty years about what to include in the room he had available to him.

     Moroni 10 is one of the most precise scriptural chapters that has ever been written. It deals with spiritual powers and gifts available to us in mortality. Much of the plan of salvation as it pertains to this life is included. Not only are Moroni's doctrinal declarations and sacred scriptural invitations supreme, but he is also sealing the record of the plates. He is not only preparing to place the physical capstone on the sealed stone box but with his writing is symbolically placing the capstone on the covenant concepts taught on the plates from which the Book of Mormon would emanate.

     The word if appears fifteen times in this chapter and in each usage is coupled with either you or ye. "If / then," which traditionally has represented covenant language, appears powerfully in verses 32 and 33 near the conclusion of the chapter. Some mention of one of the names of God appears fifty times, always in connection with you, ye, your, or yourself. The frequency with which these terms are used indicates a sacred covenant sealing taking place.

     After nearly completing the covenant-contractual terms, Moroni invites us to "come unto Christ" (Moroni 10:30). He then deftly combines passages from Isaiah 52 and 54 to help us in latter-days see the three-fold mission of the Church, first introduced to us by President Spencer W. Kimball, which is: to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints and redeem the dead.228 Moroni simply uses Isaiah's phrases, "enlarge thy borders forever," "strengthen thy stakes," and "put on thy beautiful garments" (Moroni 10:31) to describe the three aspects of the work of redemption.

     How then did Moroni conclude his covenant discourse? The same way Nephi, Jacob, Abinadi, and Jesus did, with echoes of Isaiah's language:

           Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile. . . . Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile. . . . Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever--And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations" (see Title Page).

 

     The reader should note that Joseph Smith said that "the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates."229 [Jerald F. Simon, "Researching Isaiah Passages in the Book of Mormon," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, pp. 220-222]

Moroni 10:32 Love God with All Your Might, Mind, and Strength:

 

     In Moroni 10:27-34 we find an exhortation of Moroni which was given, and better understood, in a covenant context. Among the words of Moroni he said the following:

           Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. (Moroni 10:32)

 

     Amy Hardison writes that anciently, covenants were written with a specific vocabulary. Inside the covenant context, certain words had official and legal meanings that sometimes differed from their normal, everyday use. For instance, a word that has a specific covenant meaning is love. If a vassal abides by the terms of the covenant, he is said to love the suzerain (lord); if he does not, he is said to rebel against him. In Deuteronomy 6:5 when man is commanded to "love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might," God is not requiring an emotion or a feeling of endearment. He is demanding obedience and loyalty, something a suzerain (lord) had every right to demand of his vassal and something a vassal owed to his lord. Moreover, in Hebrew thought, the heart (not the mind) was the source of thinking, willing, and deciding. Therefore, to love God with all one's heart was to make a deliberate commitment to steadfast loyalty and unwavering obedience. To love "with all thy soul" was the demand for the vassal to be prepared to die for the suzerain. It denoted full devotion. To love "with all thy might" meant that a vassal would come to the aid of the suzerain with all his force, with his army and chariots. In sum, Deuteronomy 6:56 requires a vassal to pledge complete loyalty and obedience to his suzerain and to be willing to give all that he is and all that he has as an expression of his loyalty.230

     God's response to covenant love is hesed. Although it is often translated "mercy," "there is no English word that conveys the meaning of hesed accurately. It means loving-kindness or unfailing love. Delbert Hillers explained: "Hesed is the quality one wants in a partner to an alliance, hence it involves loyalty above all. But it is more than just abiding by the letter of what one is legally required to do. It is the quality shown when a man helps a partner who needs it, hence it connotes "kindness, mercy, grace."231 Such rescuing loving-kindness is the promise of Isaiah 41:10: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." The right hand is the hand with which we make covenants. Thus, by covenant God has sworn that he will be there for us, that he will uphold us and strengthen us throughout this rigorous mortal experience. [Amy Blake Hardison, "Being a Covenant People," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, pp. 24-25] [See the commentary by Raymond Treat on 1 Nephi 4:19]

Moroni 10:34 I Soon Go to Rest:

 

     According to Joseph Allen, the question is often asked, "how did the records that Mormon gave to Moroni about 385 years after the sign of Christ's birth (Mormon 6:6) get to the hill called Cumorah in New York?" If, according to a Mesoamerican setting, the last battle was fought at the Hill Vigia (Hill Cumorah) which is located in Veracruz, Mexico, then Moroni must have carried the records to New York sometime after the final battle. The final battle was A.D. 385; Moroni's last entry was A.D. 421. That makes 36 years from the time of the last battle to Moroni's last dated entry. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 351]

     The Book of Mormon student should note, however, that beyond the recorded date of 421 A.S. is a period of time that is unknown to us. Moroni's travels to New York might have been during this time period even though Moroni does say, "I soon go to rest in the paradise of God" (Moroni 10:34). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Moroni 10:34 I Soon Go to Rest in the Paradise of God:

 

     According to Jerry Ainsworth, if Moroni was born in A.D. 350, he would have been seventy-one years of age when he completed and buried this record in A.D. 421. It is therefore possible that after Moroni buried the plates, he lived long enough to be seventy-two, before being murdered by the Lamanites. This would have made him the same age as the nine disciples of Jesus when they died (see 3 Nephi 28:3). Seventy-two, being a multiple of a perfectly whole number, twenty-four, may reflect the three whole (perfect) members of the godhead, whom Moroni served so faithfully.

     There are no primary sources that document how Moroni died. One third-hand account indicates that Brother Higgenson stated that Thomas Marsh told him that the Prophet Joseph Smith was reported to have said that Moroni died in a hand-to-hand sword combat with six Indians. After killing three of the six Indians, Moroni "became exhausted" and was killed by the fourth Indian, with whom he crossed swords. (Peterson, Moroni: American Prophet, Modern Messenger, 77).

     What we do know with certainty, however, is that since Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith as a resurrected being, he did indeed die. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 230-231]

Moroni 10:34 Jehovah:

 

     According to Joseph McConkie, the name "Jehovah" (Moroni 10:34) is the English rendering of the Hebrew tetragram YHWH. It is derived from the verb "to be," which implies his eternal nature. I AM is the first person singular form of the verb "to be." In the name Jehovah, or I AM, God manifests himself as a personal living being who labors in behalf of Israel and who will fulfill the promises made to the fathers. . . . Thus, to declare the name of the Lord was to testify of the Lord, a concept lost to both Jews and Christians alike by false traditions and faulty Bible translations. "For this cause," the Lord told Moses, "have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth" (Exodus 9:16). [Joseph F. McConkie, Gospel Symbolism, p. 177]

 

Moroni 10:34 Jehovah:

 

     Moroni concluded the plates of Mormon, looking forward to the time when all people will meet him "before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the eternal judge of both the quick and dead" (Moroni 10:34). According to John Welch, this is the only text in which a Book of Mormon prophet used the name "Jehovah."232 Assuming that the word "Jehovah" in Moroni 10:34 is a literal translation of the ancient Hebrew tetragrammaton (the protected holy name of God), it appears that Moroni finally felt safe in writing this name as a concluding seal, knowing that no one else in his lifetime would see the record and, reading it, would ever misuse that sacred name. [John W. Welch, "Ten Testimonies of Jesus Christ from the Book of Mormon," F.A.R.M.S., 1994, p. 19]

     Note* Moroni might have also used the literal holy name of God as a final witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon--a fact that every person will have to deal with as they face the Lord at the judgment bar. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Moroni 10:34 Jehovah:

 

     Richard Grant notes that according to the current scholarly view, the Old Testament in its present form is considered to be drawn from the work of four major strands or traditions of Hebrew narration, each with its own agenda. These are identified as the Jehovist, the Elohist, the Deuteronomists, and the Priestly writers, usually referred to by the shorthand, J, E, D, and P. Briefly, these traditions each represent a different view of Hebrew history, each written to achieve a specific objective of the author or authors. For example, the Jehovist referred to God as Jehovah while the Elohist: referred to God as Elohim. As has been noted previously in the commentary on 1 Nephi 3:3, the brass plates (and thus all subsequent Nephite scripture) are thought to have been primarily influenced by the E tradition.

     With this in mind, and according to John Sorenson, it is interesting that the name "Jehovah" (Yahweh), the preferred J title of deity, occurs only twice in the Book of Mormon (once a quote from Isaiah 12--with one word changed--and again in the very last sentence in the volume--Moroni 10:34). The name "Lord" is usually used for divinity in the Book of Mormon (almost 1400 times).233 [Richard G. Grant, "The Brass Plates and Their Prophets," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/brassplates/brass-plates.html; see also John L. Sorenson, "The Brass Plates and Biblical Scholarship," in Nephite Culture and Society, pp. 26-39] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 3:3]

Moroni 10:34 To Meet You before the Pleasing Bar of the Great Jehovah:

 

     According to Gerald Hansen, Jr., the Book of Mormon testifies that God will judge the nations that possess the things he writes according to that record (2 Nephi 25:22). In fact, Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and Moroni, the four most prominent writers of the book, all testify in sobering farewell statements that we will stand with them at the judgment bar of God to answer for what we have done with the teachings of the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 33:10-15; Jacob 6:5-13; Mormon 7:5-10; Moroni 10:24-34). [Gerald Hansen, Jr., "Preparing for the Judgment," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, p. 98]