You are here

3 Nephi - Title


The Lord Confirms the Covenant Way

      Alma 45 -- 3 Nephi 10




     3 NEPHI


Title of Third Nephi (Origin of the Title "Third Nephi"):


     In the first edition of the Book of Mormon, the book which is now known by the title of "Third Nephi" was known as "The Book of Nephi the son of Nephi, which was the son of Helaman." This original title was used until the edition of 1879, when at the recommendation of Orson Pratt the heading "Third Nephi" was added before the title of this book and the words "Fourth Nephi" were added before the title of the book which follows. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p 252]


3 Nephi Heading The book of Nephi, the son of Nephi, who was the son of Helaman (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]


3 Nephi--Superscript Lehi, Who Came Out of Jerusalem in the First Year of the Reign of Zedekiah:


     According to Randall Spackman, when Mormon abridged the Nephite records, he divided them into various books (see, for example, his comment in Helaman 2:13-14). He gave each of these books a title and a superscription. For the book known today as Third Nephi, Mormon wrote:

           The Book of Nephi, the son of Nephi, who was the son of Helaman. And Helaman was the son of Helaman, who was the son of Alma, who was the son of Alma, being a descendant of Nephi who was the son of Lehi, who came out of Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, the king of Judah. (3 Nephi--Superscript)


     This superscript is the only place in the Book of Mormon where Lehi is said to have left Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah. Nephi does not record in his own writings that Lehi left Jerusalem at that time.      Randall Spackman takes the position that writing more than 900 years after Lehi left Jerusalem, Mormon did not have the sources available to enable him to know when Lehi escaped. Because the Hebrew scriptures available to Mormon ended with the commencement of Zedekiah's reign (see 1 Nephi 5:12), his comment seems to have been based on an assumption that Lehi escaped from Jerusalem in the same year that the prophets began calling on the people of Jerusalem to repent (see 1 Nephi 1:4). In regards to Nephi's record, Spackman quotes the prophecy found in 2 Nephi 25:10: "Wherefore, it hath been told them [the Jews at Jerusalem] concerning the destruction which should come upon them, immediately after my father left Jerusalem." Spackman notes that according to 2 Kings 25:2 and generally accepted historical records, Jerusalem was sacked in July 586 B.C., during the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign. Thus, Spackman feels that Mormon's dating of Lehi's departure (as found in the superscript to Third Nephi) appears to be inaccurate and quotes the preface of the Book of Mormon for support: "And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God . . ." [Randall P. Spackman, "The Jewish/Nephite Lunar Calendar," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 7/1, November 1, 1998, p. 59]

     Note* People tend to quote the preface to the Book of Mormon in support of inaccuracies or mistakes in the Book of Mormon. Yet in doing so they tend to ignore Mormon 8:17, which states the following: "And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault . . ." To put oneself above both Mormon and Moroni invites skepticism. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]