“After This Manner Was the Language of My Father”

Alan C. Miner

Following the pattern of Jewish writing, no quotation marks are used in the Book of Mormon. The writers indicate they are quoting directly by the use of such terms as "after this manner was the language of my father" (1 Nephi 1:15), or "my father . . . spake . . . saying . . ." (1 Nephi 2:9).

According to Hugh Nibley, when Nephi says, "after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God" he is not telling us what language his father spoke, but giving notice that he is quoting or paraphrasing an actual speech of his father. Likewise when he says, "I make a record in the language of my father" (1 Nephi 1:2), he says that he is going to quote or paraphrase a record actually written by his father (1 Nephi 1:16). He explains that his father wrote the record in Egyptian though it dealt with Jewish matters, but he never affirms that Egyptian was his father's native tongue. The clause in 1 Nephi 1:2 which begins, "which consists of . . . " does not refer back to "language" or "father," of course, but to "record." The other two are syntactically possible but don't make sense: a language does not consist of a language, but a record does. [Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, F.A.R.M.S., p. 14]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary