Volume 6 - Appendix A

 

 

 

     APPENDIX A (Chronology)

 

 

     CHRONOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF THIRD NEPHI

 

YEAR      EVENT

 

           (Christ Speaks to the Nephites)

4 A.S.      in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month (8:5)

     a great storm, terrible tempest, terrible thunder, sharp lightnings (8:5-7)

     Many great cities sunk, many burned, many shaken (8:8-15)

     All these terrible things were done in about the space of three hours (8:19)j

     Darkness did last for the space of three days - no light seen (8:23)

     Christ speaks from heavens - no more sacrifices & burnt offerings (9:19)

     There is silence for the space of many hours (10:1,2)

     Christ speaks again - promises to gather his people (10: 3-8)

     Thus did the three days pass away and it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed (10:9)

 

           (Christ's First Main Appearance to the Nephites)

     In the ending of the thirty and fourth year, behold (Mormon) will show that people had great blessings (10:18)

     Soon after the ascension of Christ into heaven he did manifest himself unto them (10:18)

     A great multitude is gathered at the temple in Bountiful (11:1)

     A heavenly voice repeats 3 times ""Behold my Beloved Son" (11:3-7)

     Christ descends from heaven (11:8)

     People allowed to feel his wounds (11:14)

     Doctrine of baptism (11)      

     Jesus calls and commissions the twelve (12)

     The Sermon at the Temple (12 - 14)

     Law of Moses superseded (15)

     Another fold to hear Savior (16)

     Savior blesses little children & heals sick (17)

     Sacrament instituted - authority to give Holy Ghost (18)

     Jesus departs into heaven (18:39)

     People return home - Jesus to return on the morrow (19:2)

 

           (Christ's Second Main Appearance to the Nephites)

     People gather - the twelve minister unto them (19)

     Jesus comes - prays with people (19)

     Sacrament miraculously given - Savior like unto Moses (20)

     Glory for those who repent - The New Jerusalem (21)

     Isaiah 54 quoted - Israel shall be gathered in the last days (22)

     Jesus corrects the record - Samuel's words "many did arise" (23)

     Law of tithes & offerings (24)

     Elijah & the great and dreadful day of the Lord (25)

     Savior expounds all things - Disciples teach & baptize (26)

     The Lord truly did teach the people for the space of three days (26:13)

     After that he did show himself unto them oft (26:13)

 

           (Christ's Third Main Appearance to the Nephites)

     After he had ascended into heaven the second time (26:15)

     On the morrow the multitude gathered together (26:16)

     As disciples are gathered together to preach - Jesus again showed himself unto them (27:2)

     Christ names his church - people to be judged by written books (27)

     The 3 Nephites (28)

     Jesus touched every one of the disciples save it were three and then he departed (28:12)

     Mormon's warning to those who spurn the words & works of the Lord (29)

     Mormon calls the Gentiles to repentance (30)

 

     CHRONOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF FOURTH NEPHI

 

YEAR      EVENT

 

35 A.S.      the thirty and fourth year passed away (4 Nephi 1:1)

36 A.S.      and also the thirty and fifth (4 Nephi 1:1)

     the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about (4 Nephi 1:1)

36 A.S.      in the thirty and sixth year (4 Nephi 1:2)

     the people were all converted unto the Lord upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites (4 Nephi 1:2)

38 A.S.      the thirty and seventh year passed away (4 Nephi 1:4)

     there still continued to be peace in the land.

39 A.S.      thus did the thirty and eighth year pass away (4 Nephi 1:6)

40 A.S.      and also the thirty and ninth (4 Nephi 1:6)

42 A.S.      and forty and first (4 Nephi 1:6)

43 A.S.      and the forty and second (4 Nephi 1:6)

50 A.S.      forty and nine years had passed away (4 Nephi 1:6)

52 A.S.      and also the fifty and first (4 Nephi 1:6)

53 A.S.      and the fifty and second (4 Nephi 1:6)

60 A.S.      fifty and nine years had passed away (4 Nephi 1:6)

     they did build cities again -- even that great city Zarahemla (4 Nephi 1:7-8)

     the people wax strong -- they do not obey the law of Moses, but they obey the commandments of the Lord (4 Nephi 1:10-12)

     there is no contention in all the land (4 Nephi 1:13)

72 A.S.      the seventy and first year passed away (4 Nephi 1:14)

73 A.S.      and also the seventy and second year (4 Nephi 1:14)

80 A.S.      the seventy and ninth year had passed away (4 Nephi 1:14)

     all the disciples of Jesus had died save the three who should tarry (4 Nephi 1:14)

     other disciples are ordained in their stead (4 Nephi 1:14)

     there are no robbers, nor murderers, nor Lamanites, nor any manner of "ites," -- they were in one the children of Christ

111 A.S.      an hundred and ten years had passed away (4 Nephi 1:18)

     the first generation from Christ had passed away -- no contention in all the land (4 Nephi 1:18)

     Nephi (the recordkeeper) dies (4 Nephi 1:19)

     Nephi's son Amos keeps the record in his stead -- he kept it eighty and four years (4 Nephi 1:19-20)

     Some people revolt against the church and take the name of Lamanites -- There began to be Lamanites again in the land

195 A.S.      Amos dies -- and it was an hundred and ninety and four years from the coming of Christ (4 Nephi 21)

     Amos' son Amos keeps the records

201 A.S.      two hundred years had passed away

     the people had spread upon all the face of the land, and had become exceedingly rich (4 Nephi 1:23)

     in this two hundred and first year they began have among them those lifted up in the pride of the world (4 Nephi 1:24)

     from that time forth they did not have things in common among them (4 Nephi 1:25)

     they began to be divided into classes -- to build churches unto themselves to get gain (4 Nephi 1:26)

211 A.S.      when two hundred and ten years had passed away (4 Nephi 1;27)

     there were many churches in the land -- they did persecute the true church of Christ

     the three disciples are cast into furnaces of fire and dens of wild beasts without harm (4 Nephi 1:30-32)

231 A.S.      two hundred and thirty years had passed away (4 Nephi 1:34)

     in this year there was a great division among the people --

     Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites Lemuelites, Ishmaelites

245 A.S.      two hundred and forty and four years had passed away (4 Nephi 1:40)

     they continue to build churches unto themselves

251 A.S.      thus did two hundred and fifty years pass away

261 A.S.      and also two hundred and sixty years (4 Nephi 1:41)

     the wicked people build up the secret oaths and combinations of Gadianton

     the people of Nephi began to become vain like the Lamanites (4 Nephi 1:43)

301 A.S.      When three hundred years had passed away (4 Nephi 1:45)

     the Nephites and Lamanites both had become wicked

     the Gadianton robbers spread over all the land, acquiring riches

 

     CHRONOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF FOURTH NEPHI

 

YEAR      EVENT

 

306 A.S.      after three hundred and five years had passed away (4 Nephi 1:47)

     Amos dies

     Amos' brother Ammaron keeps the record in his stead

321 A.S.      when three hundred and twenty years had passed away (4 Nephi 1:48)

     Ammaron hides up all the sacred records kept even until the three hundred and twentieth year (4 Nephi 1:48)

     thus is the end of the record of Ammaron (4 Nephi 1:49)

 

     CHRONOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON

 

YEAR (A.S.)      EVENT

 

(321)            Ammaron chooses Mormon at age 10 (Mormon 1:2)

(322)            Mormon "carried by my father into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla" (Mormon 1:6)

           War starts "in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon" (Mormon 1:10)

                 In this same year in "a number of battles"---"Nephites did beat the Lamanites" (Mormon 1:11)

(323)            "Peace did remain for the space of about four years" (Mormon 1:13)

(326)            Mormon (age 15) "was visited by the Lord" (Mormon 1:15)

           Mormon did "endeavor to preach . . . but I was forbidden (Mormon 1:16-17)

           "There began to be war again" (Mormon 2:1)

326            Nephites appoint Mormon (age 15) "the leader of their armies" (Mormon 2:1-2)

327            Lamanites attack with power--Nephites "would not fight"--"retreat towards the north countries" (Mormon 2:3)

           Nephites fortify city of Angola --- Lamanites drive them out (Mormon 2:4)

           Lamanites drive Nephites out of the land of David (Mormon 2:5)

(327)            Nephites gather at land of Joshua "in the borders west by the seashore" (Mormon 2:6-7)

330            Nephites beat Lamanites: (Mormon 2:9)

                 Lamanite army = 44,000 King = Aaron

                 Nephite army = 42,000

(331)            Beginning of 14 Year Period of Peace (A.D. 331 to A.D. 345)

(335)            Mormon goes to hill Shim and retrieves plates according to words of Ammaron (No record)(See Mormon 1:2-3)

(335)            (Mormon is age 24 and has time to marry, start a family, and preach the gospel)

344            "the day of grace was passed with them" (the Nephites) (Mormon 2:15)

345            Nephites "flee before the Lamanites -- "even to the land of Jashon" (Mormon 2:16-17)

                 "City of Jashon was near the land where Ammaron had deposited the records unto the Lord"

                 Mormon did make a record: (Mormon 2:17)

                       "Upon the plates of Nephi (Large Plates) I did make a full account"

                 (Moroni is possibly born when Mormon is age 34)

345            Nephites driven "northward to the land which was called Shem" (Mormon 2:20)

                 Nephites gather -- Shem fortified

346            Mormon speaks -- Nephites aroused "somewhat" -- Lamanites flee (Mormon 2:25)

                 Nephite army = 30,000      Lamanite army = 50,000

                 Nephites pursue and beat Lamanites a second time

349            Nephites "had again taken possession of the lands of our inheritance" (Mormon 2:27)

350            Nephite-Lamanite Treaty: (Mormon 2:29)

                 "Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the

                 land southward"

                 "(Nephites) did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward"

           Beginning of Ten Year Period of Peace (A.D. 350 to A.D. 360) (Mormon 3:1-3)

           Mormon cries for repentance in vain (Mormon 3:1-3)

361            Lamanite king sends epistle to Mormon -"they were preparing to come again to battle against us" (Mormon 3:4)

           Nephites gather "at the land Desolation to a city which was in the borders by the narrow pass which led into

                 the land southward" (Mormon 3:5) "That they might no get possession of ANY of our lands" (Mormon 3:6)

           Lamanites "come down" to city of Desolation - Nephites beat them - they retreat to their OWN lands (Mormon 3:7)

 

     CHRONOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON

 

YEAR (A.S.)      EVENT

 

362            Lamanites "come down again" to Desolation -- Nephites beat them again (Mormon 3:8)

                 "Their dead were cast into the sea"

           Nephites decide to WAGE war (Mormon 3:9-10)

           Mormon "did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people" (Mormon 3:11)

                 Mormon "did stand as an idle witness" (Mormon 3:16)

                 Mormon receives command to make the abridgment (Mormon 3:16-17, 5:8-24)

363            Nephites "go up" to battle Lamanites "out of Desolation: (Mormon 4:1-3)

                 Nephites driven back to Desolation

                 "Sore battle" -- Lamanites "take possession of the city Desolation"

                 Lamanites "did slay many" and "did take many prisoners"

363                  Nephites flee to the city Teancum

 

364            Lamanites come against Teancum -- They are "repulsed" (Mormon 4:8)

                 Nephites "boast of their strength"

           Nephites take "possession again of the city Desolation" (Mormon 4:8)

                 "thousands slain on both sides"

367            Lamanites attack -- take possession of the city Desolation (Mormon 4:13-14)

                 Lamanites drive Nephites from the city Teancum

                 Take many prisoners "both women and children" & did offer them as sacrifices unto their idol gods."

           Nephites were "angry because the Lamanites had sacrificed their women and their children" (Mormon 4:15)

                 Nephites "beat again the Lamanites, and (did) drive them out of their lands"

367            Beginning of 7 Year Period of Peace (A.D. 367 to A.D. 375)

(375)                  (Possible time when Moroni begins his ministry at age 30) (See Moroni 8:1)

375-79            Lamanites "come down against the Nephites with ALL their powers; and they were not numbered" (Mormon 4:17)

                 "From this time forth did the Nephites gain no power over the Lamanites" (Mormon 4:18)

                 "Sore battle" at Desolation -- Lamanites beat Nephites

                 Nephites flee to the city Boaz: Nephites withstand first attack (Mormon 4:20)

                 Lamanites attack the 2nd time: "an exceedingly great slaughter," Nephites flee

           Mormon sees that "the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land" (Mormon 4:23)

                 Mormon "did go to the hill Shim, and take up ALL the records which Ammaron had hid up"

           Mormon "did repent of the oath" -- Nephites give him "command again of their armies" (Mormon 5:1)

                 (Possible time when Mormon writes 1st epistle to Moroni (Moroni-Chapter 8)

           Lamanites attack--Nephites flee--"Whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not

                 gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned

                 [Possible time period that Mormon writes his 2nd epistle to Moroni (Moroni-Chapter 9) ]

               Lamanites attack city of Jordan (Jashon?) --driven back twice

           Nephites maintain the city -- also other cities "which strongholds did cut them off that they could not

                 get into the country which lay before us, to destroy the inhabitants of our land.

380-84            Lamanites attack - they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet," Nephites flee (Mormon 5:6)

           Mormon "wrote an epistle to the king of the Lamanites" --Nephites desire to gather "unto the land of

                 Cumorah"

                 "By a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle" (Mormon 6:2)

           Lamanite king grants Mormon's wish (Mormon 6:3)

           Nephites "march forth to the land of Cumorah:

                 "We did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah"

                 "It was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains"

                 "Here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites"

385            Nephites "had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah" (Mormon 6:5)

                 Mormon "began to be old" (Age = 74)

                 Mormon made "this record out of the plates of Nephi" (Mormon 6:6)

                 Mormon hides up all the records "in the hill Cumorah" "save these few plates"

                 "these few plates" were the ones "which I (Mormon) GAVE unto my son Moroni" (Mormon 6:6)

 

     BRIEF CHRONOLOGY TO THE END OF THE RECORD

 

YEAR (A.S.)      EVENT

 

(385+)            Mormon survives Cumorah, gives pertinent details of destruction (Mormon 6)

           Mormon admonishes the Lamanites (Mormon 7)

           Mormon says "Amen" (Mormon 7:10)

->401            Moroni says "my father also was killed," "I remain alone" and "I fulfill the commandment of my father" (Mormon 8:1-3)

           Moroni says "my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof" (Mormon 8:5)

           Moroni says "I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none"(Mormon 8:5)

401            Moroni finishes Mormon's writings (Mormon 8 & 9)

401-421            Moroni gives an account from the Book of Ether (Ether)

           Moroni supposed not to have written more (Mormon 1:1)

           Moroni will write some things of worth (Moroni 1-10)

421+            "MORE than four hundred and twenty years have passed away" (Mormon 10:1)

           Moroni says "Amen" and seals up the record for the final time (Mormon 10:2,34)

 

 

November 19, 2000

 

 

     The Chronological Setting for Moroni 7

 

     Over six years ago I wrote an article published in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies111 detailing the chronological setting for the epistles of Mormon to Moroni, which make up the content of chapters 8 and 9 of the book of Moroni. Although Moroni had placed these epistles in his final book sometime after the final battles at the hill Cumorah and before he buried the plates for the final time at the hill in New York, he did not specifically give the date of their origin. Yet by analyzing the specific chronological clues contained in the text of these epistles and by comparing them with Mormon's abridged record of the final years of the Nephite nation, I was able to create a set of chronological time frames which, when compared with one another, pointed to the epistles being written during a time period of between A.D. 375 and 376. Recently however, additional textual clues have been put forward that, for some, might put my chronological setting for the epistles into question.112 Let me explain the dilemma.

     During the time period leading up to Mormon's life, we find that the Nephites became progressively more wicked. In fact, by the year A.D. 245, we find that "the more wicked part of the people did wax strong, and became exceedingly more numerous than were the people of God" (4 Nephi 1:40). By the year 301, "there were NONE that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus" (4 Nephi 1:45, emphasis added). (The reader should note here that the term "disciples" is only used in the Book of Mormon to specifically designate the twelve special witnesses of the Lord, and even more specifically the three who chose not to taste of death.) Moreover, during Mormon's lifetime, there are only two mentions of Mormon even trying to preach to the people:

     (1) The first time was when he was fifteen (about A.D. 326) when he was "visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus" (Mormon 1:15). Mormon notes that he endeavored to preach, but "my mouth was shut, and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them: for behold they had wilfully rebelled against their God; and the beloved disciples were taken away out of the land, because of their iniquity" (Mormon 1:16). In this spiritual void Mormon records that "there were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon ANY, because of their wickedness and unbelief" (Mormon 1:14, emphasis added).

     (2) The second time occurred between the years A.D 350 and 360. Mormon notes:

                 the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people--Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared. And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain, and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold, they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God. (Mormon 3:2)

     

     Thus all the textual clues, if interpreted in an "absolute" manner, would seem to eliminate the possibility of an existing Church of Christ during Mormon's lifetime. Yet Mormon spoke his sermon as recorded in Moroni 7 not on repentance, but on faith, hope and charity "as he taught [the people] in the synagogue which they had built for the place of worship. Moreover, Mormon addressed them as his "beloved brethren" (Moroni 7:2), those "of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven" (Moroni 7:3). Furthermore, Mormon told these brethren that he was able to make this judgment "because of your peaceable walk with the children of men" (Moroni 7:4)--strange words from a military leader to an unrighteous and unrepentant mass of degenerate humanity absorbed in the horrors of war. Complicating this scenario are some additional comments found in an epistle of Mormon to Moroni (Moroni 8). It seems Mormon had to write Moroni concerning his son's "ministry" and the "disputations among [the people he was ministering to] concerning the baptism of your little children" (Moroni 8:1-5)--hardly a concern if there was no true Church or there were no righteous people to minister to or baptize into that Church. Thus the Book of Mormon reader is left to formulate a scenario that might give a plausible answer to the dilemma.

     In constructing a plausible scenario that would give an answer to all these questions, I would first like to pay tribute to Jerry Ainsworth for not only elucidating the dilemma, but for bringing forward plausible ideas that might contribute to a solution. Although my solution differs from his, the reader will find that I have elaborated on a number of his ideas in order to construct my scenario.

     The reader should also be aware that there are a few key ideas which have unlocked this dilemma for me. The first key comes from the multiple symbolisms which permeate the story of the people of Ammon. The second key has to do with the assumption that while chapters 7, 8, & 9 of Moroni are possibly sequential in nature as reflected in their positioning in the text, they might not necessarily have been written at the same time nor from the same location. The third key revolves around the idea that Mormon was not only singled out to be a special witness to the destruction of a political Nephite nation, but to be a special witness of Christ.

     Now as a prelude to my discussion on the chronological setting of Moroni 7, I would invite the reader to review my article, "A Chronological Setting for the Epistles of Mormon to Moroni," because I am still committed to the plausibility of almost everything proposed there. One thing I must caution the reader about, however, is that my article only pertained to Moroni 8 & 9. The chronological setting for Moroni 7 is a different story. Thus in order to more fully understand that setting, I will now move forward with a pertinent chronology, along with some questions and commentary.

 

Year      Verse            Event

101      4N 1:14      Disciples of Christ pass away (except 3)--Other disciples chosen

 

     Question : What is the meaning of the word "disciple"? Does it always denote one of the special witnesses of Christ or is it a term that could be applied to all followers of Christ?

     Comment: The word "disciple" in the Book of Mormon seems to always refer to one of the special chosen witnesses of Christ. I think such is the case here.

 

210      4N 1:27      Many other churches formed w/ some power over disciples (v. 30)

231      4N 1:35      Great division:      Nephites--true believers (3 disciples among them)

                                   Lamanites--did not believe ("did not dwindle"?)

301      4N 1:45      "People of Nephi" had become exceedingly wicked

 

     Comment: One might wonder whether the term "people of Nephi" might be different in some way from the term "Nephites," but I think they can be taken as synonymous.

 

( )      4N 1:46      Gadianton robbers over "the face of the land."

 

     Question: What "land" is Mormon referring to? What are the boundaries for the term "the face of the land"?      

 

( )      4N 1:46      "None that were righteous save the disciples of Jesus."

 

     Question: What is the definition of the term "righteous? The 3 disciples of Jesus were translated beings (terrestrial level). Does this mean that nobody reached their level of spirituality. What about the process of calling other disciples? (see 4N 1:14) Had the other disciples all died and had nobody been called to replace them? Was there still any formal "Church of Christ"?

     Comment: In view of the "many churches" and the Gadianton philosophy which pervaded the Nephite people, I think the point Mormon is making here is that the only way to righteousness at this time was by following the "disciples" or special witnesses of Jesus. I also believe the process of following these disciples required people to distance themselves geographically from the non-believers because of persecution. This would have created a tribal "Nephite" nation who did not follow Christ.

 

321      4N 1:48      Ammaron "constrained by the Holy Ghost," hides up the records.

 

     Comment: One might wonder how Ammaron could be "constrained by the Holy Ghost" if "none were righteous." Interpreting verses that "none" were righteous or received the Holy Ghost in an "absolute" manner would lead to contradictions. I believe Ammaron was a disciple of Jesus (special witness). Ammaron seems to have lived in the land northward near the hill Shim. For this time period, this location could have been at a distance from the center of Nephite rebellion.

 

(322?)      M 1:6            Mormon carried by his father into the land southward, even to the land of

                       Zarahemla.

                 The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings.

                 The people were as numerous as the sands of the sea.

     Comment: It is not said whether Mormon's father was righteous, but I believe he was. I believe that he had distanced himself from the main Nephite rebellions, both militarily and spiritually. The term "land southward" could be just a directional term, but it also seems to fit into a "Land Southward" connotation, implying a political unit. I think the term "whole face of the land" is mainly referring to the land southward into which Mormon was carried. Thus the boundaries of the "whole land" probably mean those lands close and to the south of the narrow neck of land.

 

( )      M 1:8            There began a war between the Nephites and Lamanites.

 

     Question: Mormon has previously defined the term "Nephites" as "the true believers in Christ." (see 4N 1:36) How can there now be "Nephites" when there were "none that are righteous"? (see 4N 1:46)

     Comment: I think Mormon is now referring to political entities.

 

( )      M 1:10      The war began "in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon."

 

     Comment: This seems to be describing the location of Manti, where the previous wars had been initiated (see Alma 43:25; 53:8, 56:13-14). This would be the same southern Nephite borders as before the time of Christ when everyone became as "one." Thus, the term Nephites might tend to be a more tribal or political term at this point in the narrative.

 

( )      M 1:11      Nephites gather "a great number" --30,000.

 

     Question: How can 30,000 be considered "a great number" when Mormon has just said that the people were as numerous as the sands of the sea"? (see M 1:7)

     Comment: I think this is another clue that Mormon is focusing his narrative.

 

( )      M 1:12      Peace in "the land," wickedness did prevail upon the face of "the whole land."

 

     Question: What is the extent of "the land" or "the whole land"?

 

( )      M 1:13-14      The Lord did take away his beloved disciples ("out of the land"-v. 16).

                 There were no gifts from the Lord.

                 The Holy Ghost did not come upon ANY.

 

     Question:      Had the church ceased to exist?

                 Was there NO righteous person anywhere on the continent?

                 Where did the "beloved disciples" go?

 

326      M 1:15      Mormon was visited of the Lord.

( )      M 1:16      Mormon attempt to preach to "this people" but his mouth is shut.

                 Mormon is forbidden to preach unto "them."

 

     Question: Is Mormon the only righteous person on the continent?

 

( )      M 1:18      Gadianton robbers infest "the land," the "land" is cursed.

 

     Comment: What are the boundaries of "the land"?

 

327      M 2:3            Nephite-Lamanite war. Nephites retreat toward "north countries."

 

     Question: Is the term "north countries" a directionally descriptive term or a proper name (North Countries)? Are these countries a political entity distinct from the "country" of the Nephites?

 

330      M 2:9      Lamanite King named Aaron comes against Mormon with 44,000 men.

 

     Comment: There is a Lamanite army leader named Aaron mentioned in Mormon's epistle (Moroni 9:17).

 

350      M 2:28-29      Nephite lands of inheritance divided by "narrow passage."

 

     Comment: If Nephite lands were divided then part of the Nephite land was north of the narrow passage. One might wonder how the Nephite lands after the time of Christ could be so geographically similar to the Nephite lands before the time of Christ (see Alma 22 and Alma 50) if the definition of a Nephite ONLY pertained to their belief in Christ, especially when NONE were righteous. Once again this is evidence that Mormon is focusing on a political Nephite nation.

 

360      M 3:3      Mormon commanded to cry repentance to "this people, but it was in vain.

 

     Comment: There have been only two references to Mormon either being commanded not to preach or preaching in vain to "this people." If one were to take an "absolute" interpretation, this would make Moroni 7 a textual contradiction during Mormon's military years. If the interpretation is not absolute, then a plausible explanation is that Mormon delivered the context of Moroni 7 to a group of "beloved brethren" geographically distant from the Nephite nation during the period of respite from his military duties.113

 

362      M 3:11      Mormon refuses to lead the Nephite armies.

375      M 4:23      Mormon retakes leadership of the Nephite armies.

 

     Comment: Where had Mormon been during these 13 years? Where is Moroni? I believe that Mormon went to a place where there were righteous people or "beloved brethren" at a location distant from the Nephite nation. These righteous "brethren" could well have included the people of Ammon, who had departed into the land northward about 46 B.C. (Helaman 3:12). Here Mormon (who had been visited by the Lord) would have been considered a special witness of Christ, and would have been one of the authorities (if not thee authority) of the church. Towards the end of this period of time, and just before Mormon chose to return to be a "witness" to the destruction of the Nephite nation, I believe Mormon ordained his young son Moroni to "the ministry," which involved watching over the scattered locations of the faithful.

 

     Now, having completed this review of pertinent chronology, I would like to give a background review of the people of Ammon in order to emphasize why they might have been so crucial to not only Mormon's abridgment, but to Mormon's sermon found in Moroni 7. In the Title Page of the Book of Mormon we find that the first proposed purpose of the book is to "show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers . . . that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever." Raymond Treat notes that part of the ancient Hebrew covenant ritual involved exchanging names or taking a new name. Each covenant participant would take the other person's last name and add it to his own.114 In the book of Alma we find not only the story of the redemption of Alma and the Sons of Mosiah, but their subsequent missionary efforts. The sons of Mosiah (of whom Ammon was the eldest and the leader) went among the Lamanites and converted a number of them. The converted Lamanites eventually took upon themselves the name "Ammon. Thus one might wonder if, according to the design of the Book of Mormon, there is any symbolic covenant significance to not only the name "Ammon" and his story, but the people who took upon them this name.

     Some scholars might recognize the name "Amon" as an Egyptian pagan god, but according to Hugh Nibley, "he's not pagan at all."

           The Egyptian word Amon means lots and lots of things. The main thing it means is "the unknown one," the one the Egyptians don't know. They call him "the hidden one, the concealed one, the one whose name nobody knows." Of course, that's exactly what the Hebrews said about him. Only the high priest in Israel knew the name of God. He only whispered it once a year when he went behind the veil. Nobody else knew that name. The name of Amon is written in Egyptian with a man concealing himself behind a blind. That is always read as Imn, "the one who is not seen, the one who is invisible, the one we don't know and who is above." In several of our hymns we use the word Amon for the name of God:

           What, tho, if the favor of Ahman possessing,

           This world's bitter hate you are called to endure?

           ("The Time is Far spent" Hymnbook, p. 266)115

 

     Now according to Louis Midgley,

           the name and description of the community (or church) in the Book of Mormon was People of God (Mosiah 25:24; Alma 2:11, 19:14; 4 Nephi 1:40), or Covenant People of the Lord (1 Nephi 14:14; 2 Nephi 30:2; Mormon 8:15,21). Those names, as well as a complex of related language, are linked with the making and renewal of the covenant binding the faithful to God. The covenant was at times renewed through rituals involving the entire community. Those rituals admonished and constituted, as they did with ancient Israel, what the Book of Mormon calls "ways of remembrance" (1 Nephi 2:24). . . . [Such] provide us with prophetic direction and warning by preserving and enlarging our own memory of God's mighty deeds, and of the terms of the covenant that made them (and us) the People of God.116

 

     Thus by linking the people of Ammon with the people of God (see Mosiah 25:24; Alma 25:13; 27:27), a symbolic background is established for the many types and shadows of covenant salvation evoked in the story of the redemption of the people of Ammon. In order to understand why Ammon and the people of Ammon were uniquely important to Mormon, it might prove enlightening to the reader to list just briefly a few of the symbolisms associated with their story of redemption. The following is a partial list:117

     1. Ammon was redeemed of the Lord. (Mosiah 27:8-34)

     2. He learned that "all mankind" must be redeemed in order to inherit the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 27:25-27)

     3. He began to "publish peace." (Mosiah 27:32-37)

     4. He desired to preach repentance to his brethren the Lamanites. (Mosiah 28:1-5)

     5. Ammon was apparently the oldest and "chief" among those who desired to preach (Alma 17:18) (Symbolic of the Firstborn)

     6. Before departing for their missions, Ammon blessed all the servants and administered unto them (Alma 17:18). (Symbolic of foreordination in the Premortal sphere)

     7. Ammon went to the land of Ishmael (Ishmael is a biblical person symbolizing those children of the Father born outside the Abrahamic covenant. These were children of the Father "born after the flesh" in "bondage"--see Galations 6:22-23)

     8. Ammon was willing to give his life to fulfill his calling (Alma 17:23). (Symbolic of the Savior)

     9. Ammon forsook riches and power in order to serve his king (Alma 17:24-25) (Christ also did the same, but in order to serve The King)

     10. After 3 days, as Ammon and the servants of the king (symbolic of God's prophets) were leading their flocks (symbolic of covenant children) to water (symbolic of living water) their flocks were scattered. (Alma 17:27)

     11. The servants of the king feared for their lives because of this scattering. (Alma 17:28)      

     12. Ammon showed forth his power. With the servants he led the flocks back to the place of water (Alma 17:29-32)

     13. The wicked men came to scatter the flocks again.(Alma 17:33)

     14. Ammon overcame them and cut off their arms (symbolic of their power) (Alma 17:37)

     15. The arms were presented to the king as proof of Ammon's actions (Alma 17:39)

     16. The servants testified of the power of Ammon (Alma 18:1)

     17. Ammon was perceived as having all the attributes of the Great Spirit. (Alma 18:2-4).

     18. Ammon was the greatest of all servants to the king (Alma 18:10).

     19. Ammon was called "Rabbanah," meaning powerful or great king (Alma 18:13), a title nearly identical to "Rabhboni," meaning master, which was directed by Mary Magdalene to the resurrected Lord (John 20:16).

     20. Ammon's only desire was to serve the king.

     21. Ammon knew the thoughts of a man's heart. (Alma 18:18)

     22. Ammon had been called to teach the true nature of a just God (Alma 18:26-34)

     23. Ammon was a man created after the image of God and called by His spirit (Alma 18:34)      

     24. Ammon taught the gospel from the scriptures, specifically the creation, the fall, and the atonement (Alma 18:36-39)

     25. Once the king (or symbolic representative of the people) understood and believed, he fell into a comatose state (symbolic of the death of the natural man). (Alma 18:40-43)

     26. He was in this state of death until the third day, (symbolic of Christ's death) however during this time his spirit was being taught by the Redeemer (symbolic of Christ's mission to the Spirit World) (Alma 19:1-13);

     27. When he arose he was a new man, spiritually reborn (symbolic of the covenant of baptism).

     28. Wicked men tried to slay Ammon but he could not be slain according to the promises of the Lord (Alma 19:22-23)

     29. The king said that were Ammon to be slain, innocent blood would be shed (Alma 20:19)

     30. Ammon had power even over the king of all the Lamanites (symbolic of Satan). He smote his arm that he could not use it (Alma 20:20)

     31. Ammon requested and was granted his wish that his brethren be released from prison (Alma 20:24) (symbolizing the power to free men from a spiritual prison).

     32. Ammon returned to the land of his inheritance (Alma 21:18)

     33. Ammon taught the people all things pertaining to righteousness (Alma 21:23)

     34. As the people of the king were converted, they buried their weapons of war in covenant (symbolic of baptism)--they became new people. (Alma 23:7)

     35 The people gave their lives completely to this covenant. Even though they covenanted to not take someone's life, they triumphed over many of their enemies in battle (Alma 23-26)

     36. Although they endured sufferings, the Lord would not allow this people to be totally destroyed. (Alma 27:1-14)

     37. They were told to depart from their homeland in order to go to a new land of inheritance. They were given the land of Jershon, which literally means "a land of inheritance," or in Book of Mormon terms "a land of promise." (Alma 27:15-26)

     38. They took upon themselves the name of "the people of Ammon," which means "the people of God" (Ammon = God) by which they were distinguished "ever after." (Alma 27:26)

     39. There they kept their covenants perfectly (Alma 27:27) and were protected from destruction. (Alma 28:1-3)

     40. When once again in the face of ultimate destruction, they refused to break their covenant they were led to the land of Melek which literally means "the land of the king" (in Hebrew Melekh = king). (Alma 35:13)

     41. In Melek they prospered and raised up a righteous posterity. This people of Ammon ("people of God" or covenant people) had children who also lived by the covenant. (Alma 56:3-9)

     42 When ultimate danger threatened for the third time, the righteous posterity rose up to preserve the lives of their covenant progenitors. (Alma 56-59)

     43. The commander of the Nephites (Moroni) had established a covenant of peace. (Alma 44:14-15)

     44. Those who fought against the covenant people ("king-men" --who wanted to establish a false king) and who refused the covenant of peace suffered death. (Alma 44:14)

     45 Not one life of the young people of Ammon was lost. (Alma 56-59)

     46. Mormon also recorded that as far as he knew, the people of Ammon never did fall away. (Alma 23:5-7; 27:26-30)

 

     Understanding this symbolism surrounding the people of Ammon lets us make a few assumptions about what might have been going on during the life of Mormon. In about 46 B.C., when contention arose among the Nephite nation, Mormon notes that the people of Ammon departed out of the land into the land northward. (Hel 3:3-5, 11-15). Although Mormon never states specifically just where the people of Ammon settled in the land northward, he did not attempt to correlate the subsequent wickedness in the land northward with the people of Ammon. Mormon makes no specific mention of them in his description of the rejection of Nephi's preaching in that land at around 23 B.C. (see Helaman 7:1-6). This would have been only about 40 years from the miraculous battles of the sons of Helaman and it is highly doubtful that the people of Ammon would have ever rejected Nephi if Mormon specifically states that "they never did fall away." Such a drastic turnabout would not have escaped Mormon's record.

     Over two hundred years after the Lord's visit, Mormon records that the people began to dwindle into unbelief and wickedness. For the next two hundred years the Nephite nation continued their downward spiral into total wickedness until they were totally destroyed. (4 Ne 1:24 - Mormon 8:2). But what about the people of Ammon? As has just been established, the people of Ammon could have been a viable community during the lifetime of Mormon, distant both geographically and spiritually from the total moral decay of a nation which led ultimately to the wars of extermination.

 

     Now as to the possible period(s) of time during the lifetime of Mormon in which he could have traveled to where the people of Ammon were located and delivered the sermon found in Moroni 7, the following are possibilities:

           a. The fourteen years of peace (331-45; see Mormon 2:10-15) (Mormon would have been 20-34 years old).

           b. The ten-year period of peace (350-60; see Mormon 3:1-2) (Mormon would have been 39-49 years old).

           c. The twelve plus years that Mormon stood as an "idle witness" (362-75; Mormon 3:16) Mormon would have been 51-63+ years old).

 

     Since Moroni had to be old enough to labor in the ministry sometime during this time period, we can consider possibility "b" or "c." Since I will assume the writings of Mormon (Moroni 7, 8 & 9) are sequential, and since Moroni notes that one of Mormon's epistles (Moroni 8) was written to him "soon after [his] calling to the ministry, and since the time frame for the epistles (Moroni 8 & 9) has been shown to be between the years 375-376, then the most logical choice for Mormon's sermon on faith, hope & charity (Moroni 7) would be "c," or sometime during the twelve years that Mormon stood as an "idle witness" (A.D. 362-375).118 The reader should note that Mormon was not forbidden to preach during the years from 362-375, but only comments that he was commanded to cry repentance to "this people" (or the Nephite nation) (Mormon 3:3)119 Thus during the time period proposed, Mormon could have traveled to where the people of Ammon were located and preached to them.

     This leads us to the last key, that Mormon was not only a special witness to the destruction of the Nephite nation, but a special witness of Christ. The text of Mormon 3:16 implies as much, as does Moroni 9:1-6. When Mormon informs his son Moroni that he is "laboring with them continually . . . speaking the word of God" (Moroni 9:4) we need not suppose that he is performing missionary labor in the customary sense of the word. Mormon's "labors" were probably not of the same nature that Moroni's labors were. I believe Mormon's labors involved witnessing the destruction of the Nephite nation while personally doing all he could to prevent it by preaching Christ when he could to the people, even though he knew it would be in vain. I believe Moroni's labors involved seeing to the needs of righteous people located elsewhere in the land northward. However there is one symbolic comparison in the text which I believe Mormon makes to himself that might be more telling than anything else Mormon implies concerning his association with the people of Ammon. The reader will note that there was another very special witness of Christ whose story was intertwined with that of Ammon. His name was Alma. It is most intriguing to me, and most telling, that Alma, as the chief authority of the Church, was last reported as traveling to be with the people of Ammon. Mormon notes symbolically that Alma (the chief judge and high priest) was on his way to the land of Melek (the location of the people of Ammon--see Alma 35:13) when he was "taken up by the Spirit or buried by the hand of the Lord" (Alma 45:18-19).120 As a special witness of Christ I like to think that Mormon had a great affinity to Alma, as well as to Ammon and other people important to his abridgment narrative,121 although their callings took them down somewhat different paths.

     In summary, I propose that the scenario for Moroni 7 can plausibly be plugged into a time period between A.D. 362 and 375. As I have shown previously, the epistles of Mormon to Moroni could have been written between the years 375-376, and thus correlate with my chronological positioning of Moroni 7. The three main pillars of support for this hypothesis are (1) Mormon's historical and symbolical textual notes concerning the people of Ammon; (2) the sequential nature of Moroni 7, 8 & 9 as they relate to the chronological clues contained within their text and within the writings of Mormon; and (3) the fact that Mormon was a special witness of Christ.