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Martin Harris acted as Joseph Smith's scribe from 12 April to 14 June 1828, and at the end of this period they had written out 116 pages. But, when Joseph gave Martin permission to take the pages home, the manuscript disappeared. Joseph found another scribe in the person of Oliver Cowdery, who arrived in April 1829. In May 1829, Joseph received a revelation, which warned that wicked men had obtained the manuscript and had altered the words. Joseph was instructed to substitute the small plates of Nephi for the lost portion, which was called the Book of Lehi. Mormon states in the Words of Mormon that he found the small plates when he was searching through the other plates that he was abridging, and since he liked them so much, he decided to include them with his abridgment. The small plates contained Nephi's abridgment of the Book of Lehi and some greatly abbreviated records kept by various prophets. The missing manuscript had gone as far as the reign of king Benjamin, and the small plates also conveniently stop at this point. With the substitution of the small plates, Joseph did not have to produce an exact duplicate of the original manuscript.
However, this substitution of material is only one of many indications that the Book of Mormon has been altered. The text is filled with inconsistencies and lacunae; essential information is missing at every turn, and there are long historical gaps. For example, we do not know the history of Laban or exactly what position he held in Jewish society. We are told that his fathers kept the brass plates, but we do not know how they obtained them or what the origin of the plates was.
Since Lehi and his sons lived in Jerusalem, they could not have been entirely ignorant of the lands surrounding Palestine, and yet Nephi does not give us any place names which we can identify. He speaks of the valley of Lemuel, the river Laman, Shazer, Nahom, Bountiful, and the Irreantum Sea, but we are left to guess where these sites were.
The description of Lehi's journey through the wilderness is obviously greatly abbreviated. The account suggests that Lehi's group traveled in a fairly straight line, first southeast and then east. But two other passages in the Book of Mormon indicate that their course was not so direct. King Benjamin gave the "ball or director," which guided Lehi's group, to Mosiah II and stated: "Therefore, as they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey, but were driven back, and incurred the displeasure of God upon them; and therefore they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions" (Mosiah 1:17). The text does describe an incident in which Nephi was unable to obtain food, because he had broken his bow, but it does not state that the group was driven back. In fact, Nephi says that they "did again take our journey, traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning" (1 Nephi 16:33). In another passage Alma also delivers the Liahona to his son and again states concerning Lehi's group: "They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey; therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions" (Alma 37:41-42). But the Book of Mormon does not describe the winding course indicated by Benjamin and Alma.
When Lehi and his family landed in the New World, Nephi reported finding cows, oxen, asses, horses, and goats in the forests. If we knew at this point in the story that the Jaredites, who preceded Lehi by hundreds of years, had brought animals with them to the New World, we would be able to account for these domesticated animals. But neither we nor Nephi know of the Jaredites; nonetheless, Nephi expresses no surprise at finding such animals, nor does he speculate that their presence might be a sign of an already existing civilization.
Joseph, the son of Lehi, received a greater blessing than his brothers. In 2 Nephi 3, Lehi relates prophecies made by Joseph of Egypt which promised that young Joseph's seed would not be destroyed and that a "choice seer" would be produced from his progeny. This seer would restore a book written by Joseph's descendants. Joseph and his brother Jacob were later consecrated by Nephi as priests and teachers. But following this, Joseph completely disappears from the Book of Mormon. Although there are a few references to Josephites, no figure in the Book of Mormon claims to be a descendant of Joseph.
There are indications that the blessing which Lehi gave to Joseph really belonged to Nephi. The people who were blessed by Lehi are listed in the text in the following order: Laman, Lemuel, Sam, the sons of Ishmael, Zoram, Jacob, Joseph, the children of Laman, the sons and daughters of Lemuel, all the household of Ishmael, and Sam. The one person who is conspicuously absent from this list is Nephi, although Lehi mentions Nephi in connection with the blessings which he gave to Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Zoram, and Jacob. And although the children of Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael received blessings, the children of Nephi are not mentioned. The omission of Nephi leads us to suspect that Joseph was not really Lehi's son and that Joseph's blessing should have been conferred upon Nephi and his posterity.
Furthermore, Nephi says, "the Lord God promised unto me that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation, that the promise may be fulfilled unto Joseph, that his seed should never perish as long as the earth should stand. Wherefore, these things shall go from generation to generation as long as the earth shall stand" (2 Nephi 25:21-22). Nephi seems to link himself directly with the promise which the Lord gave to the biblical Joseph. Therefore, it should be his seed which would be preserved forever and his seed which would accept the book, as was promised to Joseph, the son of Lehi. This seems to be stated in these words which the Lord addressed to Nephi: "And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed . . . ." (2 Nephi 29:2). This appears to assert that Nephi had been promised that his seed would receive the book, which is precisely the promise that was given to Joseph.
Nephi's brother Sam is another curiosity. Like Joseph, he too disappears from the Book of Mormon, and there are never any references to his posterity. It is also odd that the name Samuel would be shortened to Sam. It may be significant that Joseph Smith had a brother named Samuel.
Jacob tells us that Nephi anointed "a man" to be king, but he never tells us who this man was. And although Jacob says that there were a number of kings who succeeded Nephi, the Book of Mormon never mentions them. It is also peculiar that Jacob lived long enough to see more than one successor to Nephi.
Jacob 3:14 says: "And I make an end of speaking these words." However, Jacob continues his writings for three more chapters, at the end of which he says, "Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen" (Jacob 6:13). But this is still not the last that we hear from Jacob. The following chapter tells of a confrontation between Jacob and an unbeliever named Sherem, which occurred "after some years had passed away" (Jacob 7:1). Finally, Jacob "began to be old" and passed the plates on to his son Enos. But first Jacob wrote, "and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu" (Jacob 7:27). The comic quality of these passages is heightened by the nineteenth century language placed in the mouth of a sixth century B.C. Nephite. The text also suggests that the editor of Jacob's records could not decide where he wanted to stop and kept adding material without revising what he had already done.
After the Book of Jacob, the writings of the prophets become ever more brief and the chronology ever more obscure. Enos, the son of Jacob, says that he saw wars between the Lamanites and Nephites, but he gives us no details. His history ends at about the 179th year after the departure from Jerusalem, 124 years after the death of Nephi.
Jarom's record says that the Nephites remained righteous, swept the Lamanites out of the land, fortified their cities, spread upon the face of the land, and became very prosperous. Jarom was the son of Enos, and his history ends after 238 years had passed away. The record of Omni, the son of Jarom, fills only three verses, but extends to the 282nd year. He says merely that there were periods of peace and periods of war. Omni's son Amaron adds another five verses, in which he states rather matter-of-factly, "Behold, it came to pass that three hundred and twenty years had passed away, and the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed" (Omni 1:5). It seems that such a calamity would deserve more than a few passing remarks. Amaron gave the plates to his brother Chemish, who writes one verse, in which he really says nothing at all. Abinadom, the son of Chemish, states that he saw and participated in "much war"; his record consists of two verses.
Finally, Amaleki, the son of Abinadom, gives us a smattering of information about Mosiah. The Lord warned Mosiah to flee out of the land of Nephi, but Amaleki does not tell us why, nor does he describe the fate of those Nephites who were left behind. We know nothing about Mosiah's background, nor, for that matter, do we know much about Amaleki. Amaleki gives us little information about the people of Zarahemla. We never learn what route these people traveled from Jerusalem to reach the New World, or what kind of ship conveyed them there.
Amaleki gives part of the history of King Benjamin, stating that Benjamin drove the Lamanites out of the land. He also describes a group of people who set out for the land of Nephi to regain the land of their inheritance, but he does not name the leader of the colony.
The Words of Mormon follow, in which Mormon again describes a great battle between the Nephites and Lamanites, which seems to be essentially the same information which Amaleki had already given us. However, Mormon does not mention the expedition which set out for the land of Nephi.
The Book of Mosiah begins by restating that there was peace in the land. Waxing old, Benjamin then conferred the kingdom on his son Mosiah. Again no mention is made of the expedition to the land of Nephi. However, after Mosiah had reigned for three years, he sent out another group under the leadership of Ammon to locate the colony in the land of Nephi. Ammon found king Limhi reigning in Lehi-Nephi. Limhi was the son of Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, the leader of the colony. Amaleki's history seems to indicate that Zeniff set out after the great battle between the Nephites and Lamanites during the reign of king Benjamin. This would be during the period of peace described by both Mormon and the Book of Mosiah, and this would seem to be a logical time for such an expedition into Lamanite territory.
The record of Zeniff gives us some clues as to the length of his reign in Lehi-Nephi. He says that in the thirteenth year of his reign, there was a battle between his people and the Lamanites, and the Lamanites were driven out (Mosiah 9:14). There then followed a period of twenty-two years of continual peace (Mosiah 10:3, 5). Following this, there was another battle with the Lamanites. By this time, Zeniff was "in my old age" (Mosiah 10:10). After the Lamanites were driven out, Zeniff conferred the kingdom on his son Noah. Sometime after Noah became king, a man named Abinadi began to prophesy among Noah's people and continued to do so two years later (Mosiah 12:1). After Noah put Abinadi to death, his kingdom was invaded by the Lamanites. Noah was killed by his own people, and Limhi, his son, became king.
The editors of the Book of Mormon have tried to supply dates for major events wherever they are missing from the record, and they have suggested the following chronology:
200 B.C. . . . . . Zeniff begins his reign in Lehi-Nephi
160 B.C. . . . . . Noah becomes king
148 B.C. . . . . . Abinadi is put to death
145 B.C. . . . . . Noah is killed; Limhi becomes king
130 B.C. . . . . . King Benjamin educates his three sons
124 B.C. . . . . . Mosiah II is consecrated as king
121 B.C. . . . . . Benjamin dies; Mosiah sends Ammon to find the Zeniff colony
The dates for Mosiah II are among the best documented in the Book of Mormon (see Mosiah 6:4; 29:46; and 3 Nephi 2:4-6) We know that Mosiah was born in 154 B.C. and that he became king in 124 B.C., when he was thirty years old. Benjamin lived only three years longer and died in 121 B.C. The Book of Mormon does not provide any dates for Mosiah I, and the editors do not suggest any.
The editors' chronology suggests 148 B.C. as the date for the death of Abinadi. The text does not indicate how long after the death of Abinadi Noah was killed and Limhi became king, but the editors allow three years. Therefore, when Ammon traveled to Lehi-Nephi in 121 B.C., Mosiah was thirty-three, and Limhi would have been reigning as king for at least twenty-four years. But if Limhi and Mosiah were approximately the same age, as we would expect, Limhi would have become king at about the age of nine. However, we know that Limhi was an adult, because the text refers to him at the time of Noah's death as "a just man" (Mosiah 19:17).
During the period of peace in the land of Zarahemla, Benjamin educated his three sons. The editors suggest a date of 130 B.C., but this would have been only nine years before Benjamin died, and Mosiah would have been twenty-four years old. Why would Benjamin have waited so long to educate his sons?
We must certainly marvel at the great many events which transpired between the reigns of Benjamin and Mosiah. Zeniff reigned in Lehi-Nephi for about forty years. After Noah became king, Abinadi prophesied for two years and was put to death. Alma went to the waters of Mormon, where he gathered a number of followers, and then journeyed to Helam, where his followers built a city and multiplied. In the meantime, Noah was killed, his priests escaped and kidnapped some Lamanite women, and then traveled to Amulon, where they established a colony. Limhi became king and reigned for twenty-one years before Mosiah was consecrated by Benjamin.
There are further problems with the chronology involving Amulon and the other priests of Noah. After king Noah was killed and the priests escaped, "king Limhi did have continual peace in his kingdom for the space of two years" (Mosiah 19:29). Then after losing a series of battles with the Lamanites, Limhi "caused that his people should watch the land round about, that by some means they might take those priests that fled into the wilderness, who had stolen the daughters of the Lamanites, and that had caused such a great destruction to come upon them. . . . for they had come into the land of Nephi by night, and carried off their grain and many of their precious things; therefore they laid wait for them" (Mosiah 21:20-21). Thus the priests were still close enough to Lehi-Nephi to make nighttime raids on the supplies of the people of Limhi, and this was more than two years later. The text then says that "there was no more disturbance between the Lamanites and the people of Limhi, even until the time that Ammon and his brethren came into the land" (Mosiah 21:22). Since Ammon arrived in 121 B.C., it appears that Limhi enjoyed peace for about twenty-two years. Limhi and Ammon almost immediately began laying plans for their escape from the Lamanites. A Lamanite army pursued them, but became lost in the wilderness and stumbled upon Amulon, where Noah's priests were living with their Lamanite wives. But the last indication in the text was that the priests were still in the vicinity of Lehi-Nephi and that Limhi was trying to capture them. In fact, when Ammon came to Lehi-Nephi, Limhi "discovered Ammon and his brethren; and supposing them to be priests of Noah therefore he caused that they should be taken" (Mosiah 21:23). If the priests had been living in Amulon for twenty-two years, why would Limhi still be looking for them, and why would he mistakenly suppose that Ammon and his brethren were the priests?
Another part of the narrative suggests that not many years had passed by: "Yet Ammon and his brethren were filled with sorrow because so many of their brethren had been slain . . . and they also did mourn for the death of Abinadi; and also for the departure of Alma and the people that went with him" (Mosiah 21:29-30). If Limhi's people had been at peace for twenty-two years, why would Ammon lament for those who had been slain? And if it had been twenty-seven years since the death of Abinadi, why would Ammon mourn for Abinadi and for the departure of Alma's people?
It appears from all of these inconsistencies that the Book of Mormon has been altered without regard to maintaining a proper chronology. Furthermore, there seems to be some confusion concerning Benjamin and Mosiah in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. Mosiah 21:28 originally read: "And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings." "King Benjamin" was changed to read "king Mosiah." Similarly, Ether 4:1 originally read "king Benjamin" where it now reads "king Mosiah." Ether says that the visions of the brother of Jared were not to be made public until after the death of Christ, "and for this cause did king Benjamin keep them." These passages in the first edition of the Book of Mormon suggest that it was actually Benjamin who was king in the time of Limhi and that he possessed the record of the Jaredites, which was discovered by Limhi's men. If the Book of Mormon was rewritten, making Mosiah the contemporary of Limhi, these two passages were apparently overlooked. This type of restructuring of the Book of Mormon would also explain the many chronological inconsistencies in the record of Benjamin and Mosiah.
The Book of Mormon gives the impression that the groups led by Limhi and Alma both arrived in Zarahemla at about the same time, but they must have been separated by a fairly lengthy period. The Lamanite army which pursued Limhi's group became lost in the wilderness. After many days they found Amulon, where the priests of Noah had already established a colony. Later, both the Lamanites and the Amulonites set out in search of the land of Nephi, but discovered the city of Helam, built by Alma's group. The Lamanites would not leave Helam, but actually imported other colonists. The Lamanite king appointed Amulon to be the king over Helam, and the Lamanites became prosperous traders. Alma's group did not attempt to escape until after Amulon began to place heavy burdens upon them. Thus between the arrival in Zarahemla of the two groups led by Limhi and Alma, there was sufficient time for the Lamanites to discover both Amulon and Helam and to establish themselves as wealthy traders under the kingship of Amulon. This must have required a number of years; however, the editors of the Book of Mormon suggest that Alma arrived in Zarahemla in 120 B.C.
Abinadi had predicted that unless Noah's people repented, they would be brought into bondage. He also prophesied that the people would be smitten with famine, hail, wind, insects, and a great pestilence. The Lord then said, "And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will utterly destroy them from off the face of the earth; yet they shall leave a record behind them, and I will preserve them for other nations which shall possess the land; yea, even this will I do that I may discover the abominations of this people to other nations" (Mosiah 12:8). Very little of Abinadi's prophecy came true, however. Although Noah was killed and his people were brought into bondage, they actually prospered; they were not afflicted by famine, hail, wind, insects, and a great pestilence.
Abinadi spoke as if he fully expected that Noah's people would be utterly destroyed, and that other people would come in to possess the land. His reference to a record which they would leave behind, which the Lord would preserve for other nations, is also very odd. Limhi actually carried the record of the Zeniff colony back to Zarahemla and gave it to Mosiah II. However, some of Limhi's men had discovered the record of the Jaredites, somewhere north of Zarahemla, which was carried back to Lehi-Nephi and was later given to Mosiah to translate. When Alma transferred the record and the interpreters to Helaman, he quoted the Lord's warning against the Jaredites, in words very similar to those of Abinadi: "I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land" (Alma 37:25). The Jaredites were destroyed from off the face of the earth because of their abominations, but Limhi's people were not. They actually escaped and journeyed to the land of Zarahemla with Ammon.
Part of Abinadi's prophecy was not fulfilled until the mission of Ammon II in the land of Nephi. The priests of Noah put Abinadi to death by fire, but before he died, he said, "Behold, even as ye have done unto me, so shall it come to pass that thy seed shall cause that many shall suffer the pains that I do suffer, even the pains of death by fire; and this because they believe in the salvation of the Lord their God" (Mosiah 17:15). It is related in Alma 25 that "almost all the seed of Amulon and his brethren, who were the priests of Noah" were slain by the Nephites, after the destruction of Ammonihah, except for some who fled into the east wilderness. These few survivors caused some Lamanite converts to be put to death, because of their beliefs. This angered the Lamanites, who started to hunt down the seed of Amulon and his brethren. The text claims this as a fulfillment of the words of Abinadi: "And he said unto the priests of Noah that their seed should cause many to be put to death, in the like manner as he was, and that they should be scattered abroad and slain . . . and now behold, these words were verified, for they were driven by the Lamanites, and they were hunted, and they were smitten" (Alma 25:12). However, this is extremely confusing, because Mosiah 25:12 states that "the children of Amulon and his brethren" went with Alma to Zarahemla and became Nephites. Who then were this seed of Amulon and his brethren, who were being killed by the Nephites and Lamanites? Furthermore, Abinadi addressed some of his words directly to the priests: "And it will come to pass that ye shall be afflicted with all manner of diseases because of your iniquities. Yea, and ye shall be smitten on every hand, and shall be driven and scattered to and fro . . . . And in that day ye shall be hunted, and ye shall be taken by the hand of your enemies, and then ye shall suffer, as I suffer, the pains of death by fire" (Mosiah 17:16-18). However, the priests of Noah were not afflicted by disease, they were not smitten, driven, and hunted, and they did not suffer death by fire. They escaped from the Lamanites and started a colony in Amulon. Later Amulon was made king over Helam by the king of the Lamanites and was given authority to appoint teachers throughout the land. The Lamanites became wealthy traders, and the Amulonites became allied with the Amalekites.
In a later passage Mormon associates the prophecies of Abinadi with the conditions which preceded the destruction of the Nephites: "there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land, even unto the fulfilling of all the words of Abinadi, and also Samuel the Lamanite" (Mormon 1:19). Although Samuel's prophecies applied to the Nephites, Abinadi supposedly predicted the destruction of Noah's people, who lived hundreds of years earlier. Since there are so many problems with Abinadi's prophecies, it is evident that the text has been altered.
There is some question about how the term "Nephites" was being used up to the time of Mosiah II. After Nephi and his followers separated from Laman and Lemuel and settled in the city of Nephi, they called themselves "the people of Nephi" (2 Nephi 5:9). The first appearance of the term "Nephites" occurs in the Book of Jacob, after the death of Nephi. Jacob states that Nephi's successors were also called Nephi, and says further, "Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites. But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings" (Jacob 1:13-14). Thus according to Jacob, "Nephites" had been used as the name of a particular tribe until the death of Nephi, at which time it was used as a general term to designate "those who are friendly to Nephi," and the kings who reigned were called Nephi. Applying the name "Nephites" to the people and "Nephi" to the kings seem to go hand-in-hand.
However, after explaining his definition of "Nephites," Jacob never again uses the term, although he does use the phrase "people of Nephi." On the other hand, the name Nephites is used by Enos, Jarom, Omni, Amaron, and Abinadom. But Amaleki does not use the term in connection with Mosiah I. The text says that Mosiah taught the people of Zarahemla "in his language," when we would expect it to read "in the language of Nephi." And although the people of Zarahemla received Mosiah as their king, Amaleki does not say that they took upon themselves the name of Nephites. He does however use the term when describing a battle during the days of Benjamin. But Benjamin never uses the name Nephites in the Book of Mosiah; he commands Mosiah to "make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people, or the people of Zarahemla, and the people of Mosiah who dwell in the land" (Mosiah 1:10).
The first occurrence of "Nephites" in the Book of Mosiah is in chapter 7. Despite the fact that Ammon had pointedly introduced himself to Limhi as a descendant of Zarahemla, Limhi hopefully suggested that his brethren in the land of Zarahemla might free his people, and then said, "it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites" (Mosiah 7:15). It is not clear why Limhi thought that his people might be enslaved by the Nephites, if they were all brethren. Another King expressed a similar fear to Ammon II, but in his case the fear was justified, since his people were Lamanites. The term "Nephites" does not occur again in the Book of Mosiah until chapter 21, and again it is used in association with Limhi, but this time it refers to Limhi's own people (Mosiah 21:2, 5). This seems rather strange, since Limhi used the term only to refer to Nephites in the land of Zarahemla.
The group which was led to Zarahemla by Alma included those people who had gathered at the waters of Mormon, "in the borders of the land." In Helam they were joined by Lamanites and the priests of Noah, who came from Amulon. The text does not say that the priests had any children when they journeyed to Helam, but by the time Alma escaped, the priests not only had children, but they were apparently mature enough to decide that they wanted to join Alma's group in fleeing to Zarahemla:
those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites. And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi. (Mosiah 25:12-13)Thus the children of Amulon and his brethren, who were half Lamanite, immediately took upon themselves the name of Nephites, but the people of Zarahemla were not numbered with the Nephites until the arrival of Alma's people, despite the fact that they had been ruled by descendants of Nephi. But if the people in Benjamin's day were calling themselves the people of Mosiah, rather than Nephites, why were the children of the Amulonites so anxious to take the name of Nephites? And what was so important about Alma's arrival that it caused the people of Zarahemla to call themselves Nephites? The term "Nephites" is not used in the remainder of the Book of Mosiah, but beginning with the Book of Alma, it is used repeatedly.
The Book of Mormon states that after Alma's group arrived in Zarahemla, Mosiah called all of the people together, and he "read the records of the people of Zeniff, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until they returned again. And he also read the account of Alma and his brethren, and all their afflictions, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until the time they returned again" (Mosiah 25:5-6). This seems to indicate that Alma and a number of other people left Zarahemla and then returned. But according to the text, Alma was a young priest in the reign of Noah, at least 52 years after Zeniff left Zarahemla (Mosiah 17:2). Therefore, Alma should have been born in the land of Lehi-Nephi. If Alma arrived in Lehi-Nephi after Noah became king, the Book of Mormon gives us no account of this.
The text says that "there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers" (Mosiah 26:1). This must refer to Benjamin's speech in 124 B.C., when he consecrated Mosiah II as king. Concerning these dissenters, the text states further: "and they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after . . . . And now in the reign of Mosiah they were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous. For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words" (Mosiah 26:4-6). Apparently then the children who had listened to Benjamin's speech had become adults, since they chose their own religious beliefs and were regarded as a separate people. Furthermore, they persecuted the church so severely that Mosiah had to issue a proclamation forbidding their activities against believers.
The text continues: "And there began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land" (Mosiah 27:6). This suggests that a very long time intervened. But the text then states: "Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man" (Mosiah 27:8). This is the same Alma who became the first chief judge in 91 B.C.
Thus the period between Benjamin's speech and Alma's appointment as chief judge consisted of only thirty-three years. But during this time, the children who had listened to Benjamin grew up and became a fairly large group of dissenters. Following the religious persecutions, there was a period of peace and prosperity, in which the people spread out over the land and built large cities. By this time the sons of Mosiah and Alma had become young men and were trying to destroy the church. However, it appears from the record that the sons of Mosiah and Alma should have reached manhood much earlier. Since Mosiah was thirty years old when he became king, his sons would have been among "the rising generation" who became dissenters, but they began their persecution of the church following the period of expansion. In addition, Alma was nineteen years older than Mosiah and had lived in Helam for some time. When he left Helam, he was joined by the children of the Amulonite priests, who were already adults. If these children had time to grow up before leaving Helam, so did the children of Alma.
Mosiah II had four sons, who went on a mission to the land of Nephi. Ammon traveled to the land of Ishmael, where king Lamoni ruled. There are a number of peculiarities about Lamoni and his people. When Ammon arrived, they were in a state of great spiritual ignorance. The text says, "Now this was the tradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father, that there was a Great Spirit" (Alma 18:5). But when Ammon asked Lamoni if he believed in the existence of God, Lamoni replied that he did not know what 'God' meant. Ammon then rehearsed the scriptural accounts, followed by an account of Lehi's journey through the wilderness and the rebellions of Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael. And all of this was necessary despite the fact that Lamoni was a descendant of Ishmael. Similarly, when Aaron took his mission to Nephi, he taught the father of Lamoni, who asked, "Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem?" (Alma 22:9). This question at least indicates that he remembered something about his history, but Aaron also had to expound the scriptures.
The abysmal ignorance of Lamoni and his father, king of the land of Nephi (who is never named), is not consistent with other facts related in the text. For example, the king admits, "I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him" (Alma 22:7). In fact, before Aaron arrived in the city of Nephi, he had stopped at Jerusalem, a city which had been built by the Amalekites and the Amulonites: "and he began to preach to them in their synagogues, for they had built synagogues after the order of the Nehors; for many of the Amalekites and the Amulonites were after the order of the Nehors" (Alma 21:4). While Aaron was preaching in one of the synagogues, an Amalekite disputed some of the things that he was saying, and we learn a little about the beliefs of the Amalekites. The man stated, "We do believe that God will save all men" (Alma 21:6). He also said that the Amalekites did not believe in "these foolish traditions" about the Son of God, who would come to redeem mankind: "neither do we believe that thy fathers and also that our fathers did know concerning the things which they spake, of that which is to come" (Alma 21:8). Obviously, the Amalekites knew who God was and even had a concept of the universal salvation of mankind. They also knew of the traditions concerning Christ, even if they did not believe in them. It is difficult to believe, therefore, that the Amalekites were living and worshipping in the midst of the Lamanites, but Lamoni and his father did not know anything about God, the creation of the world, the plan of salvation, Christ, or their own history.
After king Lamoni was converted by Ammon, "he caused that there should be synagogues built in the land of Ishmael" (Alma 21:20), which implies that the Lamanites did not have synagogues of their own before this time. However, after Aaron taught the king of the land of Nephi, the king issued a proclamation which instructed his people that they should not interfere with the missionaries, "nor cast them out of their synagogues . . . but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their sanctuaries" (Alma 23:2). Following this the missionaries had great success and converted thousands throughout the land of Nephi. The synagogues, temples, and sanctuaries must have belonged to the Lamanites, because the text says that all of those who were converted were Lamanites and not one was an Amalekite or Amulonite (Alma 23:13; 24:29). But this is inconsistent with the spiritual ignorance of Lamoni and his father. The king said that he allowed the Amalekites to build sanctuaries to worship in, but he did not mention that his own people had numerous buildings for religious purposes.
The state of spiritual darkness in which the Lamanites were living seems to be more appropriate to the condition of the people of Zarahemla, when they were discovered by Mosiah I. Amaleki states that "they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator" (Omni 1:17). The Lamanites also had no records, but had an oral tradition about the "Great Spirit," which they apparently did not identify with God. This seems to imply that they had lived in virtual isolation for a long time.
The Lamanites completely overran the land of Nephi after the departure of Mosiah I, and it is curious that they never changed the name of the land. The Lamanites hated the Nephites in general and the memory of Nephi in particular. Zeniff explained that Lamanite tradition claimed that Nephi had wronged his brothers Laman and Lemuel, had taken from them the right to rule, and had robbed them of the brass plates (Mosiah 10:12-17). Similarly, the father of king Lamoni referred to Ammon and his brothers as "these Nephites, who are sons of a liar. Behold, he robbed our fathers" (Alma 20:13). And yet, when the Lamanites gained control, they did not change the name of the land of Nephi or the names of the cities of Nephi and Lehi-Nephi. Why would they retain Nephi's name, if they had such great hatred for him?
We learn that the Amalekites were a group of dissident Nephites (Alma 43:13), but we are never told how they broke away from the Nephites, or how they arrived in the land of Nephi and became associated with the Amulonites.
The Amulonites, the descendants of the priests of Noah, were granted power to appoint teachers in the land of Nephi: "and thus the language of Nephi began to be taught among all the people of the Lamanites. . . . nevertheless they knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, neither the law of Moses; nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi; but they taught them that they should keep their record, and that they might write one to another" (Mosiah 24:4-6). This was the state of the Amulonites in the time of Alma I. However, the Amulonites must have later embraced the beliefs of the order of Nehor, for they already belonged to this order when Aaron arrived in the city of Jerusalem. And here we have reached another difficulty, because the sons of Mosiah II set out on their mission to the land of Nephi in 91 B.C., the same year in which Alma II became the first chief judge. And it was in the first year of Alma's reign that Nehor appeared in the land of Zarahemla, declaring that priests and teachers should be supported by the people and that all mankind would be saved. Nehor gained many followers and established a church, but after slaying a man named Gideon, he was condemned to death by Alma. When Aaron reached Jerusalem, he found that the Amalekites and Amulonites already belonged to the order of Nehor and had built synagogues after the manner of the order. But Ammon and his brothers had left Zarahemla before Alma became chief judge and before Nehor started preaching in Zarahemla. The text says only that Ammon and his brothers "journeyed many days in the wilderness" from Zarahemla to the borders of the land of the Lamanites (Alma 17:9). But between their departure and Aaron's arrival in Jerusalem the following events would have to occur: Nehor would establish a church in Zarahemla and would then be put to death, his teachings would spread all the way to the land of Nephi, the Amalekites and Amulonites would be converted to the order of Nehor and would construct synagogues. This is obviously an impossible sequence of events.
There is the possibility that Nehor could have come to Zarahemla from the land of Nephi and that he had already preached and set up synagogues among the Amalekites in Jerusalem. The text does not indicate what the origins of Nehor were. However, if Nehor already had many followers among the Amalekites and Amulonites, we would not expect him to travel alone to preach in Zarahemla, as the text seems to suggest. Furthermore, the narrative states that after Nehor gained many converts in Zarahemla, who gave him money for his support, "he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching" (Alma 1:6). But if Nehor had already established a church in the land of Nephi and had many followers who gave him money, he would have already been a very proud man, who wore costly apparel.
Other information presented in the Book of Mormon fails to provide us with a link between the order of Nehor and the Amalekites and Amulonites. After Nehor was executed, his teachings continued to spread throughout the land of Zarahemla, and his followers began to persecute those who belonged to the church of God. In the fifth year of Alma's reign, a man named Amlici, who belonged to the order of Nehor, gained a number of followers and tried to establish himself as king, but the Amlicites were defeated in battle and driven into the wilderness of Hermounts, where many of them died. We next encounter the order of Nehor in the tenth year of the reign of the judges. Alma and Amulek went on a mission to the city of Ammonihah, where many lawyers, judges, priests and teachers belonged to the order of Nehor. In the eleventh year, the city of Ammonihah was destroyed by the Lamanites, and for many years thereafter it was referred to as the Desolation of Nehors. This is all of the information that we have. There is no explanation of how, when, or why the Amulonites and Amalekites embraced the order of Nehor.
There are reasons to believe that the Book of Mormon does not give us the true doctrines of the order of Nehor. When Alma and Amulek went on a mission to Ammonihah, they were confronted by a lawyer named Zeezrom. It is reasonable to suppose that Zeezrom belonged to the order of Nehor, because as we have already noted, many lawyers and judges in Ammonihah were members of the order. It seems, however, that Zeezrom held some views which differed greatly from the teachings of Nehor and the Amalekites in Jerusalem. Zeezrom offered to give Amulek a quantity of silver, if he would "deny the existence of a Supreme Being" (Alma 11:22). After Amulek rebuked him, Zeezrom asked if there was more than one god, to which Amulek replied, no. Zeezrom then pointed out that Amulek believed in the Son of God and asked if the Son was the Eternal Father, to which Amulek answered, yes. Thus Zeezrom appears to have denied the existence of a Supreme Being, but he might also have believed in a plurality of gods. The order of Nehor, however, supposedly taught that there was one God, who would save all men. Therefore, if Zeezrom did belong to the order of Nehor, there is a problem in explaining his religious views.
However, Zeezrom is not the only one who expresses strange opinions. Another man named Antionah, who was a chief ruler in Ammonihah, apparently did not believe in either the resurrection or the immortality of the soul, for he said to Alma, "What is this that thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state, that the soul can never die?" He also argued that since Adam and Eve did not partake of the fruit of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, "there was no possible chance that they should live forever" (Alma 12:20-21). In addition, the people of Ammonihah bound Alma and Amulek and took them before the chief judge, who "was after the order and faith of Nehor" (Alma 14:16). They testified against Alma and Amulek, complaining that they had preached "that there was but one God" (Alma 14:5). This again seems to imply that the people of Ammonihah believed in a plurality of gods. Therefore, the order of Nehor appears to have denied monotheism, the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection. Consequently, Nehor could not have taught that God would save all men.
Another passage seems to imply a contradiction in the teachings of Nehor. The text says that the people of Ammonihah "repented not of their sins, ascribing all the power of Alma and Amulek to the devil; for they were of the profession of Nehor, and did not believe in the repentance of their sins" (Alma 15:15). Rejecting repentance for sins would be consistent with a belief in universal salvation, since repentance would be unnecessary. However, the corollary would be to reject the existence of the devil, which the people of Ammonihah clearly did not do. Furthermore, if they believed that Alma and Amulek derived their power from the devil, they must also have believed either that salvation is not universal, since Alma and Amulek would surely be damned, or that repentance is necessary.
There is an obvious break in the narrative at Alma 25. In chapter 24 the Amalekites and Amulonites had begun to destroy the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. These people were those Lamanites who had been converted by Ammon and his brothers. They had buried their weapons and refused to fight, and many of them were slaughtered. But chapter 25 begins with this perplexing sentence: "And behold, now it came to pass that those Lamanites were more angry because they had slain their brethren; therefore they swore vengeance upon the Nephites; and they did no more attempt to slay the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi at that time" (Alma 25:1). This must refer to the Amalekites and Amulonites, and it suggests that many of them were slain by Nephites who came to the defense of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. However, the text gives no other indication that this occurred. Nonetheless, to take revenge upon the Nephites, "those Lamanites" crossed over into the land of Zarahemla and destroyed Ammonihah. This must refer to the destruction of Ammonihah in the eleventh year of the reign of the judges, described in chapter 16. The account there gives no reason for the attack on Ammonihah; there had been "much peace . . . for a certain number of years" (Alma 16:1). What is even more perplexing is the fact that the Amalekites and Amulonites, who belonged to the order of Nehor, would select Ammonihah as a target for revenge, since many important people in that city also belonged to the order of Nehor.
Furthermore, Alma 25 states that after Ammonihah was destroyed, there were many battles between the Lamanites and Nephites, and almost all of the seed of Amulon were killed. The remainder fled into the east wilderness, where they were apparently unmolested by the Nephites. After a time the Lamanites returned to the land of Nephi. However, chapter 16 gives a completely different version. According to this account, the Lamanites continued on to the city of Noah, after destroying Ammonihah, and took captives. They then proceeded south, crossing the river Sidon in the south wilderness beyond the borders of Manti, where they were met by a Nephite army led by Zoram, which freed the captives and drove out the Lamanites.
Those Amulonites who fled into the east wilderness were hunted down by the Lamanites. The text says: "And behold they are hunted at this day by the Lamanites" (Alma 25:9). What can be the meaning of this statement? Who wrote it and what period of time is it referring to?
There also is a lack of agreement between the end of chapter 25 and the beginning of chapter 27. Chapter 25 says that the Lamanites returned to their own land, joined themselves to the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, buried their weapons, and became a righteous people. But Alma 27 says that the Lamanites returned to the land of Nephi, stirred up the people against the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, and began to destroy them again. If these accounts refer to different periods of time, this is not indicated in the text. Chapter 26, which intervenes, is merely Ammon's speech to his brethren, in which he rejoices over the success which they have had in their missionary labors.
The Zoramites, a group of dissident Nephites living in Antionum, turned against the people of Ammon. The text says that in the seventeenth year, the Zoramites began to mix with the Lamanites, and by the following year they had actually become Lamanites (Alma 35:10; 43:4). The Zoramites seem to have been grouped especially with the Amalekites, and together they served as chief captains of the Lamanite armies (Alma 43:6, 13, 20, 44). This is rather unusual, because the Zoramites had built their own synagogues and had peculiar religious beliefs which differed from those of the Amalekites. The Zoramites believed in the doctrine of election. A Zoramite prayer declared that God "hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell" (Alma 31:17). The Amalekites, however, believed that God would save all men. It seems unlikely, therefore, that the Zoramites and Amalekites, who were opposed in their religious beliefs, would become allies. Furthermore, it seems that the Amalekites would have resented the encroaching influence of the Zoramites over the Lamanites, especially since the Zoramites considered themselves to be a chosen people.
Again, there is evidence that the Zoramites held beliefs different from those which the text ascribes to them. Alma 31:1 says that Alma had "received tidings that the Zoramites were perverting the ways of the Lord, and that Zoram, who was their leader, was leading the hearts of the people to bow down to dumb idols." This statement is later contradicted by a description of the Zoramite form of worship. They gathered on one day of the week to their synagogues. In the center of the synagogue was a holy stand, called Rameumptom, and the Zoramites would go one by one to the top of the stand to pray to God. The rest of the week the Zoramites never spoke of God. This is all that constituted their worship. Furthermore, when the Zoramites prayed to God, they stated, "we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever" (Alma 31:15). There does not seem to be anything in the Zoramite worship which suggests any form of idolatry.
Moroni appears out of nowhere in the middle of Alma 43. We discover there that he is the chief captain over the Nephite armies and that he took command at the age of twenty-five. But we never learn anything about his lineage or previous history. Of his posterity, only his son Moronihah is mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
Moroni defeated a Lamanite army led by Zerahemnah, who made a covenant of peace and promised that his people would never come to war again against the Nephites. This was in the eighteenth year. In the nineteenth year, a man named Amalickiah appeared among the Nephites and gained a number of followers, who wanted to make him king. Amalickiah started to lead his supporters to the land of Nephi, but was cut off by Moroni, and only he and a few of his man escaped to the land of Nephi. Amalickiah persuaded the king of the Lamanites to call his people to battle against the Nephites. This is a rather incredible story for a number of reasons. Only the year before, Zerahemnah had made a treaty of peace with Moroni. Where was Zerahemnah at this time? Moreover, the Zoramites had just become allies of the Lamanites; would they have allowed Amalickiah to gain so much influence over the king? Furthermore, with the appearance of Amalickiah, the Amalekites disappear from the Book of Mormon. But how could they have become so unimportant, after they had lived among the Lamanites for a number of years and had acted as captains and leaders of the Lamanite armies and had built the great city of Jerusalem? Amalickiah later killed the king of the Lamanites, but if the Amalekites had finally gained control of the land of Nephi, after Ammon and the Anti-Nephi-Lehies left, why would they disappear and allow Amalickiah to usurp the position of the king?
Alma 46:17 states that Moroni "named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south - A chosen land, and the land of liberty." It is not clear why Moroni was particularly concerned with the area around Desolation or why he designated it as the land of liberty. He was preparing to oppose Amalickiah, and this was apparently where Amalickiah first gained his following. But the last that we heard, Moroni was battling Zerahemnah at the hill Riplah on the banks of the river Sidon, not far from Manti. This was a fair distance from the land south of Desolation, where Moroni was now rallying the people.
The people made a covenant with Moroni, saying, "We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression" (Alma 46:22). The race which occupied the land northward, which was destroyed because of transgression, was the Jaredites. Why then would these people refer to the Jaredites as "our brethren" and invoke them in a covenant which they were making with Moroni? Moroni identifies the people as "a remnant of the seed of Jacob; yea, we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph" (Alma 46:23). How then were these people and the Jaredites related?
The Book of Mormon contains this praise of Moroni: "Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever . . . . Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah" (Alma 48:17-18). In truth, however, Moroni and Ammon were very different men. Moroni was a warrior, who did not hesitate to kill or bend the rules of justice if necessary, while Ammon and his people were pacifists, who would rather lay down their lives than slay their enemies. There could not be any greater contrast between the two men.
In the twenty-ninth year, Moroni and Ammoron exchanged letters, in which they use some rather confusing language. For his part, Ammoron writes as if he were a true Lamanite. He says, "For behold, your fathers did wrong their brethren, insomuch that they did rob them of their right to the government when it rightly belonged unto them. . . . subject yourselves to be governed by those to whom the government doth rightly belong" (Alma 54:17-18). Ammoron rejects a belief not only in God, but in the devil and hell as well: "And as concerning that God whom ye say we have rejected, behold, we know not such a being; neither do ye . . . . And if it so be that there is a devil and a hell . . . ." (Alma 54:21-22). But then Ammoron states, "I am Ammoron, and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem" (Alma 54:23). But if Ammoron was a descendant of Zoram, how could he claim to represent the right to govern, which supposedly belonged to Laman? Furthermore, Ammoron's religious beliefs demonstrate that he and Amalickiah could not have belonged to the Zoramites, who believed that God had elected them as his chosen people and that everyone else would go to hell. However, Amalickiah had appointed Zoramites as chief captains of his armies (Alma 48:5), and one of Ammoron's leaders named Jacob is specifically identified as a Zoramite (Alma 52:20, 33). If Ammoron's statements really reflect his beliefs, and if he objected to Moroni's references to God and hell, why would he and Amalickiah have placed Zoramites in such important positions?
After Moroni drove the Lamanites out of the land of Zarahemla, the text jumps several years and mentions a migration of 5,400 men and their families from Zarahemla into the land northward. Then a man named Hagoth started building ships, which carried more people to the land northward. We are not told what motivated this desire to explore and settle new lands. It could not have been the pressure of overpopulation, since the Nephites had just concluded a long war with the Lamanites.
In the forty-sixth year, "there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land" (Helaman 3:3). One would think that by this time the population of Zarahemla would be seriously depleted, but apparently it was not. Even more surprising is the rapidity with which the land northward was settled: "And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east" (Helaman 3:8). But the Book of Mormon gives us scarcely any information about the people who migrated northward, the lands that they settled, and the cities that they built; it continues to focus on the land of Zarahemla.
In the sixty-second year Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman II, set out on a mission. They converted many people in the land of Zarahemla and then proceeded to the land of Nephi, where they were cast into prison, "yea, even in that same prison in which Ammon and his brethren were cast by the servant of Limhi" (Helaman 5:21). This indicates that Nephi and Lehi traveled not only to the land of Nephi, but actually went all the way to Lehi-Nephi. There was a dissident Nephite living in the city named Aminadab, who told the Lamanites, "You must repent . . . even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom" (Helaman 5:41). The Book of Mormon does not contain any record of the mission of Alma, Amulek, and Zeezrom to the Lamanites in Lehi-Nephi, although Alma 31 does say that they journeyed to Antionum to preach to the Zoramites. The chronology does not seem to allow for the trip to Lehi-Nephi. Alma converted and baptized Zeezrom in the tenth year. In the eleventh year the Lamanites destroyed Ammonihah, and Alma was in Zarahemla, advising Zoram to intercept the Lamanites in the south wilderness. Alma and Amulek then went about preaching, but their activities seem to have been restricted to "all the people of the Nephites" (Alma 16:15). This carries us to the end of the fourteenth year. In the fifteenth year Alma met the sons of Mosiah, somewhere between Gideon and Manti, who were returning from their fourteen-year mission to the land of Nephi. It was also in the fifteenth year that a tremendous battle occurred between the Nephites and Lamanites. In the sixteenth year peace was reestablished in the land. Then "in the latter end of the seventeenth year" (Alma 30:6), a man named Korihor came into the land of Zarahemla. He was called an Anti-Christ and was opposed by Alma. It was after Korihor was killed by the Zoramites that Alma, Amulek, and Zeezrom went on their mission to Antionum, but they completed this mission before the end of the seventeenth year (Alma 35:12). In the eighteenth year Alma returned to Zarahemla, and in the nineteenth year Alma "departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of Melek. And it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of" (Alma 45:18).
Thus the Book of Mormon describes only the mission of Alma, Amulek, and Zeezrom to the Zoramites in Antionum. The only time that they could have journeyed to Lehi-Nephi would have been between the twelfth and fourteenth years, but no mission to the Lamanites is mentioned. Moreover, if they had gone to Lehi-Nephi, they surely would have tried to contact Ammon and his brethren to see how they were faring in their own mission among the Lamanites. But it is clear that Alma had not seen Ammon until they met again in Zarahemla in the fifteenth year. The text says: "Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord" (Alma 17:2). This indicates that Alma had not seen them for fourteen years, that he had doubts about how strong they were in the faith, and therefore that he had not even received news of their great success in converting thousands throughout the land of Nephi, including the area around Lehi-Nephi. Clearly, Alma, Amulek, and Zeezrom could not have gone on a mission to Lehi-Nephi.
After the Nephites battled the Gadianton robbers, the Book of Helaman states: "And more of this Gadianton shall be spoken hereafter. And thus ended the forty and second year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi. And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi. Behold I do not mean the end of the book of Helaman, but I mean the end of the book of Nephi, from which I have taken all the account which I have written" (Helaman 2:12-14). This is very confusing, because this Gadianton should have died nearly 300 years before the destruction of the Nephites. A band which called itself the Gadianton robbers did appear sometime after A.D. 260 and became allied with the Lamanites. Although Mormon mentions them in his record, he does not indicate that they held prominent positions as leaders of the Lamanites armies, and Mormon himself negotiated with the Lamanite king, when he requested permission for his people to gather at Cumorah. The Gadianton robbers are not even mentioned in chapters 3-6 of Mormon's record, which cover the years from A.D. 351 to the final battle at Cumorah in A.D. 385. If the Gadianton band was responsible for the destruction of the Nephites, the Book of Mormon does not make this clear.
The Book of Mormon uses three different calendar systems. The first starts with the year in which Lehi left Jerusalem, which was 600 years before the birth of Jesus. The second system dates events from the first year of the reign of the judges, which was ninety-one years before Christ. The third begins with the birth of Jesus. Thus the ninety-second year of the reign of the judges would correspond to the year in which Jesus was born, and dates should change at this point. However, after carrying us to the hundredth year of the reign of the judges, the Book of Mormon backs up and says that nine of those years really belonged to the new era, beginning with the birth of Jesus (3 Nephi 2:5-8). This suggests that the Book of Mormon set Lehi's departure from Jerusalem at 609 B.C. and that it was changed to 600 B.C. Lehi left Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, which is now dated by scholars as 596 or 597 B.C. However, in the early 1800s, some people placed Zedekiah's reign much earlier. For example, in 1834 E. D. Howe wrote in his book Mormonism Unvailed: "According to history, and according to Jeremiah, in the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadrezzar, King of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem, which was six hundred and six years before the christian era" (Howe 1834, 51). Thus by Howe's reckoning, the first year of Zedekiah's reign would have been in 614 B.C.
After Jesus appears on the American continent and ascends into heaven again, the chronology of the Book of Mormon once again becomes very hazy. The book called Fourth Nephi stretches all the way from A.D. 35 to A.D. 320, but it consists of only four pages and forty-nine verses.
When Mormon was eleven years old, his father took him "into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla. The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea" (Mormon 1:6-7). We are not told why Mormon and his father were living in the land northward, but Mormon's words seem to imply that the land of Zarahemla had been desolate and uninhabited. This is rather strange, because nearly 300 years had passed since the land had been ravaged by earthquakes, fire, and tempests at the time of Jesus' crucifixion. And Mormon states that 200 years after the birth of Jesus "the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land" (4 Nephi 1:23).
There are some curious similarities between the ending of the Book of Mormon and an event which happened hundreds of years earlier. Ammaron buried the Nephite records in the hill Shim in A.D. 320, sixty-five years before the destruction of the Nephites, and gave Mormon custody of them. In the Book of Omni another man named Amaron wrote that about 280 B.C. "the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed." This was before Mosiah I led a group of people from the land of Nephi to Zarahemla. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, seems to have predicted these events when he warned the Nephites, "And the time speedily cometh, that except ye repent they [the Lamanites] shall possess the land of your inheritance, and the Lord God will lead away the righteous out from among you" (Jacob 3:4).
There is also another man named Mormon who is mentioned in the Book of Mosiah. Alma, one of Noah's priests, fled to the waters of Mormon, which had received its name from a king (Mosiah 18:4), but we do not know anything about this king Mormon. We should also recall that Abinadi's prophecies of the destruction of Noah's people failed to come true. Nonetheless, two passages in the Book of Mosiah imply that some great calamity did befall Noah's people. One refers to the priests of Noah, who "had caused such a great destruction to come upon them [the people of Limhi]" (Mosiah 21:20). In the other, Mosiah says, "Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage" (Mosiah 29:18). We are led to speculate that Noah's people were destroyed, that Amaron and Mormon lived during this time, and that it was Mosiah, not Limhi, who led a group of people to Zarahmela.
Mormon also tells us, "And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression" (3 Nephi 5:12). Thus, although Mormon and his father were living in the land northward, Mormon links himself with the land of Mormon, which was supposedly located in the land of Nephi. This is the only reference made to the land of Mormon in the hundreds of years which passed after Alma fled to the waters of Mormon.
At the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni inserts two epistles written by his father, which are difficult to fit into the rest of the record. Mormon writes, "Behold, my son, I will write unto you again if I go not out soon against the Lamanites. Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction except they should repent" (Moroni 8:27). This would seem to date the letter about A.D. 362, for it was in this year that the Nephites soundly defeated the Lamanites at the city of Desolation and started boasting of their strength. But it was also at this time that Mormon relinquished his command of the Nephite armies, precisely because he was offended by their pride. However, Mormon's letter indicates that he was still in command and that he might have to go out against the Lamanites. Mormon also refers to "this part of the land," as if he were writing to Moroni from a great distance. But if the letter is dated A.D. 362, they should have been in the same location, because Mormon had directed all of the people to gather at Desolation.
In his second epistle to Moroni, Mormon says, "write somewhat a few things, if thou art spared and I shall perish and not see thee; but I trust that I may see thee soon; for I have sacred records that I would deliver up unto thee" (Moroni 9:24). The letter would have to be dated not earlier than A.D. 379, for it was about this time that Mormon removed the records from the hill Shim and resumed his command of the Nephite armies.
Mormon describes atrocities committed by both the Lamanites and Nephites and then adds, "(And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and delightsome people)" (Moroni 9:12). But in fact the Nephites had not been "a civil and delightsome people" for a great many years. The downward spiral of the Nephites into sin and corruption had begun about A.D. 210, when false churches appeared and the disciples of Jesus were persecuted and killed. By A.D. 244 "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). And by A.D. 300 "both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceedingly wicked one like unto another" (4 Nephi 1:45). Mormon records that when he was fifteen years old, "wickedness did prevail upon the face of the whole land" (Mormon 1:13). Mormon's record continues to lament the sinfulness of the Nephites, and it states that in A.D. 366 "there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi" (Mormon 4:12). It appears then that the Nephites had been growing continually more wicked for at least 169 years before Mormon wrote his letter.
In his second epistle, Mormon refers to the army of Aaron, and he names a number of other people, including Archeantus, Luram, Emron, Amoron, Zenephi, and a place called the tower of Sherrizah, which are not mentioned anywhere else in the Book of Mormon. This fact, together with the inconsistencies which exist between the epistles and Mormon's record, gives the impression that the letters were concocted from material which was removed from the Book of Mormon. It is possible that the material was taken from the account of the king Mormon who was mentioned by Alma.
The phrase "And it came to pass" is used repeatedly throughout the Book of Mormon, including Mormon's own record and the Book of Ether. It must be remembered that the Book of Mormon is Mormon's abridgment of the plates of Nephi, except for the small plates (1 Nephi to Omni) and the material added by Moroni. However, the Book of Moroni does not contain one occurrence of the phrase "And it came to pass," despite the fact that Moroni quotes a long discourse and two epistles from Mormon. In the two chapters which Moroni added to Mormon's record, there is only one occurrence of the phrase (Mormon 8:2). On the other hand, the phrase does appear in the Book of Ether, which is Moroni's abridgment of the Jaredite history.
There is a great deal of evidence that the final battle at the hill Cumorah should have occurred later than A.D. 385. Nephi had a vision of the appearance of Christ to his descendants on the American continent and of events which would follow.
And the angel said unto me: Look! And I looked, and beheld three generations pass away in righteousness . . . . And I, Nephi, also saw many of the fourth generation who passed away in righteousness. And it came to pass that I saw the multitudes of the earth gathered together. And the angel said unto me: Behold thy seed, and also the seed of thy brethren. And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the people of my seed gathered together in multitudes against the seed of my brethren; and they were gathered together to battle. . . . I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed . . . and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed. (1 Nephi 12:11-19)
Nephi here states that he saw three generations and many of the fourth pass away in righteousness, and then his posterity was overpowered because of pride and iniquity. Much later, Nephi repeats this prophecy: "But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away, and many of the fourth generation shall have passed away in righteousness. And when these things have passed away a speedy destruction cometh unto my people" (2 Nephi 26:9-10).
Several hundred years later Alma delivered a similar prophecy to his son Helaman: "I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief. Yea, and then shall they see wars and pestilences, yea, famines and bloodshed, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct" (Alma 45:10-11). In 6 B.C. Samuel the Lamanite began to prophesy among the Nephites and delivered these words of the Lord: "And four hundred years shall not pass away before I will cause that they shall be smitten; yea, I will visit them with the sword and with famine and with pestilence. Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction . . . and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction" (Helaman 13:9-10). In A.D. 34 Jesus said to his American disciples, "But behold, it sorroweth me because of the fourth generation from this generation, for they are led away captive by him even as was the son of perdition . . . . And in that day will I visit them, even in turning their works upon their own heads" (3 Nephi 27:32).
These prophecies do not all agree with each other in every detail. According to Nephi, many of the fourth generation after Christ would remain righteous, but would then fall to pride and temptation and would be destroyed. Alma said that the Nephites would dwindle in unbelief four hundred years after Christ's appearance, and then would follow wars, pestilence, famine, bloodshed, and final extinction. According to Samuel, famine and pestilence would precede the final destruction, which would occur in the fourth generation, perhaps a bit short of A.D. 400. Jesus, on the other hand, spoke of the fourth generation from the generation living in A.D. 34.
Nephi's prophecy does not agree with the end of the Book of Mormon. Fourth Nephi seems to equate a generation with a hundred years: "an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away . . . . two hundred years had passed away; and the second generation had all passed away save it were a few" (4 Nephi 1:18, 22). The fall of the Nephites actually began in A.D. 210 and by A.D. 244 the wicked outnumbered the righteous. But this would be the third generation, and according to Nephi, the third generation and many of the fourth would pass away in righteousness.
With the exception of Samuel, the prophecies seem to point to a date for the battle of Cumorah sometime after A.D. 400. We should note that Moroni's additions to the Book of Mormon are dated A.D. 401 and 421. It does not seem likely that Moroni would have carried the plates around with him for sixteen years before adding his comments to the record. It is even more unlikely that he would still be making additions to the record more than thirty-six years after the battle of Cumorah. It is probable, then, that in accordance with the prophecies, the final battle actually occurred between A.D. 400 and 420. In fact the battle of Cumorah parallels the fall of Rome in A.D. 410 to Alaric, the Visigoth.
There are peculiarities about Moroni's additions to the Book of Mormon. He states, "Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone" (Mormon 8:5). It is unclear what Moroni means by "the intent thereof," but it seems likely that he is referring to the title page of the Book of Mormon, which outlines the contents and purpose of the book. Joseph Smith said that he translated the title page from the last leaf of the book of plates. However, if the title page was written by Mormon, it was certainly added to by Moroni, for it declares that the plates were "sealed by the hand of Moroni." It also gives information about the Book of Ether, which was abridged by Moroni, after he received the plates from Mormon. After stating that he did not have room on the plates to write Mormon's intent and that he did not have ore to make new plates, Moroni proceeds to write a discourse which fills six printed pages. Following this is his abridgment of the Book of Ether, which continues for another thirty pages. But Moroni still found room to add more material covering another twelve and a half pages.
Mormon stated that he had buried all of the plates in the hill Cumorah, except for his abridgment, which he gave to Moroni. However, Moroni says that he made his abridgment of the Book of Ether "from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi" (Ether 1:2). Of course, Moroni might have returned to the hill Cumorah to dig up the plates, although this would have been after he finished the record of Mormon in A.D. 401. If Moroni did not know the Jaredite language, he would first have to translate all of the plates of Ether, before he could abridge them. Moroni states that he has not written "the hundredth part" of Ether's record (Ether 15:33). Moroni's translation and abridgment of the Jaredite history would have been a prodigious task. However, Sidney Sperry points out that the twenty-four plates had already been translated much earlier by Mosiah II, and Moroni might actually have been using Mosiah's translation. In fact, Helaman II sent out another translation of the record (Alma 63:12); therefore, Moroni might have had two translations to work with. Still, these translations would have been buried in the hill Cumorah, and Moroni states that he used the plates which were discovered by Limhi's men.
Furthermore, Moroni recorded on his plates "the very things which the brother of Jared saw" (Ether 4:4), and he could not have taken his account from either of the translations made by Mosiah or Helaman. We know this, because Moroni says that it was forbidden by the Lord to make the visions public, until after Christ had been crucified, and Mosiah specifically held back the writings of the brother of Jared (Ether 4:1). Helaman also could not have published the visions, because he lived before the time of Christ. Moroni does say that when Christ appeared after his death, he commanded that the visions "should be made manifest" (Ether 4:2). The Book of Mormon makes no other reference to this, and it is not clear exactly how they were made manifest. However, if the visions were made known, Moroni might have obtained a knowledge of them. But he apparently did not use the interpreters to translate the record, for he says, "And now I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory" (Ether 5:1). If Moroni was writing from memory, he could not have been using a translation.
The visions were considered to be of great importance, and therefore, a precise rendering would certainly be desirable. Since Moroni had the interpreters, nothing prevented him from making an accurate translation. Nonetheless, Moroni expresses concern that "the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing . . . . And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands" (Ether 12:23-24). Of course, we can not judge Moroni's account of the visions, because they have never been made public.
It is also strange that although Mormon included the small plates of Nephi with his abridgment, he did not include the Jaredite history and the visions of the brother of Jared. We have only Moroni to thank for saving Joseph Smith from the embarrassment of discovering a book which did not contain the sealed portion.
But as we have seen Moroni creates an embarrassment of another sort. Since Moroni wrote the visions from memory, the sealed portion of the plates did not consist of the records which the brother of Jared sealed up, but contained Moroni's rather inferior rendering of the visions. And if Moroni sealed up the interpreters with his record, why was it necessary for him to write his own version, instead of merely including the record of the brother of Jared, to be translated by a future seer? Moroni's language is so strange that we are led to speculate that something happened to the manuscript containing the visions of the brother of Jared and that Joseph Smith was unable to reconstruct them in anything more than a crude approximation.
The rapidity with which Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery worked is demonstrated by the fact that although they sometimes caught their own mistakes, they did not stop to rewrite the manuscript, but simply corrected the error within the text. For example, after Ammonihah was destroyed by the Lamanites in the eleventh year of the reign of the judges, the text states that "the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years" (Alma 16:11). But according to Alma 49, Ammonihah had been rebuilt and fortified by Moroni only eight years later. Apparently the editor caught his mistake, because the text says, "Behold, I said that the city of Ammonihah had been rebuilt. I say unto you, yea, that it was in part rebuilt" (Alma 49:3). Amulek, the missionary partner of Alma, finds it necessary to correct himself: "I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous powers. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power" (Alma 10:5). An error occurs at Alma 24:19: "and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace." A similar mistake appears at Alma 43:38: "they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body, or the more vital parts of the body being shielded from the strokes of the Lamanites . . . ." There is sometimes confusion about the proper subject of sentences: "And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people . . . ." (Alma 43:19); "Now behold, the people who were in the land Bountiful, or rather Moroni, feared . . . ." (Alma 50:32). Moroni has to correct himself in an epistle to Ammoron: "Behold, Ammoron, I have written unto you somewhat concerning this war which ye have waged against my people, or rather which thy brother hath waged against them, and which ye are still determined to carry on after his death" (Alma 54:5). King Limhi seems to become confused when he tries to explain Abinadi's teachings to Ammon: "And because he said unto them that Christ was the God, the Father of all things, and said that he should take upon him the image of man, and it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning; or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth" (Mosiah 7:27).
We have seen that there are numerous problems with the Book of Mormon: essential information is missing, there are historical gaps and chronological inconsistencies, there are references to events which could not have happened, characters and statements seem to be out of place, prophecies are left unfulfilled, and the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites occurs at the wrong time. It appears that the manuscript was taken apart and pieced back together again in a rather clumsy manner. Even Mormon scholars acknowledge that the first part of the Book of Mormon was actually the last to be written. Although Joseph Smith received a revelation in May 1829 commanding him to substitute the plates of Nephi for the lost manuscript, he and Oliver Cowdery continued on from the Book of Mosiah to the end, and then went back to 1 Nephi.
The revelation concerned only the first part of the Book of Mormon, down to the reign of king Benjamin. Since different plates were substituted, we might expect that the two parts of the book would not fit neatly together, but it is evident that the entire Book of Mormon was reworked. Why would Joseph and Oliver revise the latter part of the book, if the revelation instructed them only to change the first part?
It can be demonstrated that Joseph Smith removed material from the manuscript of the Book of Mormon and then incorporated it in later writings. In the Book of Mormon, the Gadianton robbers are a band which use secret signs, words, oaths, and covenants. These secret oaths are specifically associated with the Jaredites. In the Book of Ether, the first reference to a secret combination occurs during the reign of Omer. Omer's son Jared was frustrated in his attempt to gain a kingdom for himself, and his daughter said to him, "Hath he not read the record which our fathers brought across the great deep? Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?" (Ether 8:9). Jared married his daughter to a man named Akish and then sought his aid. Akish gathered together his kinsmen.
And it came to pass that they all sware unto him, by the God of heaven, and also by the heavens, and also by the earth, and by their heads, that whoso should vary from the assistance which Akish desired should lose his head; and whoso should divulge whatsoever thing Akish made known unto them, the same should lose his life. And it came to pass that thus they did agree with Akish. And Akish did administer unto them the oaths which were given by them of old who also sought power, which had been handed down even from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning. And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms. (Ether 8:14-16)
Thus the Jaredites were not the originators of those secret oaths; they obtained knowledge of them from records which they brought with them to the New World. But curiously enough, the Gadianton robbers did not learn the oaths from the record of the Jaredites.
Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman; but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit -- yea, that same being who did plot with Cain, that if he would murder his brother Abel it should not be known unto the world. And he did plot with Cain and his followers from that time forth. . . . And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men. (Helaman 6:26-30)
Thus the Book of Helaman also traces the origin of the oaths back to Cain and the devil. Its explanation for Gadianton's knowledge of the oaths seems rather contrived, but Alma commanded Helaman to keep the oaths secret, when he handed over the Jaredite plates.
Supposedly, the Nephites had lived free of secret combinations for hundreds of years until Gadianton. But, both Jacob and Nephi reveal a knowledge of secret combinations long before the record of the Jaredites was discovered. Nephi says, "and there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness" (2 Nephi 26:22). In speaking of the devil, Jacob says, "who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness" (2 Nephi 9:9).
Nephi and Jacob may have received their knowledge of the secret combinations from the brass plates. After Joseph Smith finished the Book of Mormon, he produced the Book of Moses, which gives an account of the compact between Cain and the devil. But since the Book of Moses is also a part of Genesis in Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, it should have been included among the scriptures on the brass plates. The Book of Moses gives this account:
And it came to pass that Cain took one of his brothers' daughters to wife, and they loved Satan more than God. And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands. And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret. And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness. (Moses 5:28-31)
Cain was succeeded by Lamech as Master Mahan:
For Lamech having entered into a covenant with Satan, after the manner of Cain, wherein he became Master Mahan, master of that great secret which was administered unto Cain by Satan; and Irad, the son of Enoch, having known their secret, began to reveal it unto the sons of Adam; wherefore Lamech, being angry, slew him, not like unto Cain, his brother Abel, for the sake of getting gain, but he slew him for the oath's sake. For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark, and they knew every man his brother. (Moses 5:49-51)
Thus the Book of Moses contains essential information which is missing from the Book of Mormon; without it our understanding of the Gadianton robbers is incomplete. Furthermore, the accounts in the books of Ether and Helaman, as well as the statements made by Nephi and Jacob, are evidently dependent upon the material in the Book of Moses.
There are other things which seem to link the Book of Moses to the Book of Mormon. In the Book of Moses, the Lord shows Enoch a vision, in which the Lord repeatedly says, "Look," just as Nephi was repeatedly commanded by an angel to "Look" during his vision. In Enoch's vision, certain place names are given, which are similar to names in the Book of Mormon. Among those mentioned are the lands of Omner, Heni, and Hanannihah. In the Book of Mormon, Ammon II has two brothers, one of whom is named Omner and the other Himni. Also the ending -ihah is characteristic of such names as Nephihah, Moronihah, Ammonihah, and Zemnarihah in the Book of Mormon. Furthermore, the phrase "And it came to pass" is used repeatedly throughout the Book of Moses, as it is in the Book of Mormon.
It appears that Joseph used some of the material that was removed from the Book of Mormon in the Doctrine and Covenants as well. Although the phrase "And it came to pass" does not characterize the Doctrine and Covenants as a whole, it does occur in some verses, most frequently in the form of "And it shall come to pass." We should take particular note of occurrences of the phrase in Sections 29 and 74. In Section 29, the Lord says that he created Adam with free agency, and then states:
And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil -- for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; and they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels; and, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell. And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; . . . wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation. (D&C 29:36-40)
The phrase "And it came to pass" appears twice in these verses. This material presents some concepts which are important in Mormon theology: the preexistence of the devil, who wished to be recognized by God, his rebellion, and the free agency of angels and men. It seems to blend well with some things which Lehi taught to his son Jacob: "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind" (2 Nephi 2:16-18). Lehi refers to "the things which I have read," and presumably he would have obtained his knowledge of these doctrines from the scriptures which were written upon the brass plates. Joseph Smith seems almost to be quoting from the brass plates in Section 29, which goes somewhat beyond the words of Lehi. In fact, it seems to anticipate chapter 4 of the Book of Moses: "And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying -- Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. . . . Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil . . . ." (Moses 4:1-4). The account in the Book of Moses is very likely that same record which was written upon the brass plates and the same source from which Lehi derived his knowledge. Once again we find Joseph Smith supplying at a later date information which is closely linked with the Book of Mormon and is essential for a complete understanding of the book.
Two other occurrences of the phrase "And it came to pass" appear in Section 74: "And it came to pass that there arose a great contention among the people concerning the law of circumcision, for the unbelieving husband was desirous that his children should be circumcised and become subject to the law of Moses, which law was fulfilled. And it came to pass that the children, being brought up in subjection to the law of Moses, gave heed to the traditions of their fathers and believed not the gospel of Christ, wherein they became unholy" (D&C 74:3-4). This supposedly applies to the Jews in the time of the apostles, but it sounds as if it were lifted from the Book of Mormon. Another "great contention" involving children was the subject of Mormon's first epistle to Moroni: "For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children" (Moroni 8:5). Mormon quoted the words of the Lord, stating that little children could not sin and that "the law of circumcision is done away in me" (Moroni 8:8). Thus the contention concerning circumcision described in Section 74 may actually have been a point of doctrine disputed by the Nephites.
The phrase "And it shall come to pass" is used more frequently in the Doctrine and Covenants. It appears seven times in Section 42 and four times in Section 45, both written in 1831. Section 42 deals with the laws of the church, the building of the New Jerusalem, and the consecration of property. Section 45 refers to the city of Enoch, which was taken up into heaven, and then relates a conversation between Jesus and his disciples, which concerns the fulfillment of "the times of the Gentiles," the Second Coming, and the establishment of the New Jerusalem. The resurrected Jesus in the Book of Mormon also seems to be preoccupied with prophesying about the Gentiles and refers several times to the New Jerusalem.
Section 45 seems to contain a passage which is out of place. In this revelation, the Lord says: "And I will show it plainly as I showed it unto my disciples as I stood before them in the flesh, and spake unto them, saying: As ye have asked of me concerning the signs of my coming, in the day when I shall come in my glory in the clouds of heaven, to fulfil the promises that I have made unto your fathers, for as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I will show unto you how the day of redemption shall come, and also the restoration of the scattered Israel" (D&C 45:16-17). Jesus' reference to "the long absence of your spirits from your bodies" is inappropriate, because his disciples seem to have been decidedly in the flesh. It is also curious that Joseph F. Smith produced a vision in 1918, which gives us the proper context for Jesus' words. His vision concerns Jesus' visit, after his crucifixion, to the spirits of the dead who were being held in prison. He saw in the spirit world many who had lived from Adam to the time of Malachi: "All these and many more, even the prophets who dwelt among the Nephites and testified of the coming of the Son of God, mingled in the vast assembly and waited for their deliverance. For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage" (D&C 138:49-50). Here we have the words of Jesus in a proper setting; the spirits of the dead were separated from their bodies and were in a spirit prison, where they were awaiting the resurrection of Jesus. The vision continues: "These the Lord taught, and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father's kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life" (D&C 138:51). Alma had discussed this very same topic with his son Corianton, but had expressed a great deal of uncertainty about some points of interpretation (Alma 40:16-21). Despite the fact that Alma was a high priest, prophet, and seer, he could not decide whether those who died before Christ would be resurrected with Christ or after his resurrection. These passages raise all sorts of questions. Are Alma's doubts and uncertainties really those of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery? Did they in fact delete the account of Jesus' visit to the spirit prison from the Book of Mormon, because they were not sure of its implications? Did someone mistakenly copy part of this account, while he was writing Section 45? Did Joseph F. Smith have access to material which was removed from the Book of Mormon, which he used in composing his own vision?
It is evident that Joseph and Oliver attempted to rearrange and revise the Book of Mormon and that they took little time and care in their labors. Joseph and Oliver completed the entire Book of Mormon in only three months, but the evidence indicates that they must have spent all of this time revising an already existing manuscript. Furthermore, their revisions demonstrate that they did not have a good understanding of the manuscript; there are too many errors and inconsistencies.