“And It Came to Pass”

Bryan Richards

This is the first use of this phrase commonly found in the Book of Mormon. Mark Twain joked that if the phrase, 'And it came to pass,' were removed from the Book of Mormon, it would be just a pamphlet. However, the phrase is very typical of ancient texts.

Hugh Nibley

"Nothing delighted the critics more than the monotonous repetition of 'it came to pass' at the beginning of thousands of sentences in the Book of Mormon. Here again is something that Western tradition found completely unfamiliar. Instead of punctuation, the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon divides up its phrases by introducing each by an 'and,' 'behold,' 'now,' or 'It came to pass . . . .' Simply outrageous--as English literature, but it is standard Egyptian practice. Egyptian historical texts, Grapow points out, 'begin in monotonous fashion' always with the same stock words; at some periods every speech is introduced with the unnecessary 'I opened my mouth.' Dramatic texts are held together by the constant repetition of Khpr-n, 'It happened that' or 'It came to pass.' In Egyptian these expressions were not merely adornments, as Grapow points out, they are a grammatical necessity and may not be omitted. Paul Humbert has traced the origin of prophetic biblical expressions to archaic oracular formulas. At any rate they are much commoner in Egyptian than in the Bible, just as they are much commoner in the Book of Mormon. However bad they are in English, they are nothing to be laughed at as Egyptian." (Since Cumorah, p. 29)