And it came to pass is the translation of a Hebrew expression often used in scripture. Though the Hebrew form is found over 1,200 times in the Bible, it is translated just 727 times as “and it came to pass” in the King James Version, probably because the translators considered the expression repetitive. Often the translators simply left the phrase out or translated it as “and it was,” “and it became,” or “and.” Because of the Book of Mormon’s Semitic origin, and because the book comprises histories and chronologies similar to those in the Old Testament, we would expect the phrase and it came to pass to be an integral feature of the book—and it is. (See Echoes, 163–164.)
“And It Came to Pass”
While I was serving as bishop in a ward in Maryland many years ago, a young student called me on the phone with a request. Claiming to be doing a report on the Mormon Church for one of her classes, she wanted to know if I could tell her how many times it says “and it came to pass” in the Book of Mormon. I told her that the phrase does indeed occur rather frequently in the book—perhaps as often as it says in the Bible “verily, verily I say unto you”—but I was not certain of the exact total. So I told her something of the spiritual nature of the book and suggested that she read it and keep track of the count. From her attitude I could discern that her interest was to discredit, rather than to learn, the truth.
I have often thought of this incident as an example of how people overlook the miraculous nature of the Book of Mormon. Here is a lengthy and complex chronicle of God’s dealings with covenant peoples in America that was brought forth by the gift and power of God in less than three months of actual working time, with no significant changes after the fact, beyond the correction of a few printing errors and subsequent divisions into chapter and verse. The Book of Mormon has been a compass of spiritual guidance and inspiration for countless millions of people since its appearance in 1830 as a text that has since been subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
No less a miracle than the book itself is the means by which it is distributed and witnessed in the world through more than 50,000 missionaries serving at their own expense for one to two years in hundreds of missions throughout the world. In addition, a further miracle in the stakes and wards of the Church allows hundreds of thousands of converts to receive fellowship and strengthen their testimonies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel.
The young girl who coyly asked about the phrase “and it came to pass” would be well counseled to prayerfully read the volume with a sincere desire to learn. The result of such a quest would be this: a marvelous miracle would “come to pass” in her own life. (Richard J. Allen)