Chronology: This passage allows us to date the text. Nephi began 1–2 Nephi thirty years after the departure from Jerusalem. The large plates preceded the small plates, although they also were begun after the Lehites’ arrival in the New World. (This scenario would not exclude a paper version maintained during the journey from Jerusalem to Bountiful.)
Verse 34 below—forty years after leaving Jerusalem—provides another boundary date. The text of the small plates to this point was written no earlier than thirty and no later than forty years after their departure. Nephi began writing his second (small plates) history after 567 B.C. and finished 2 Nephi 5 by 557 B.C. Although Nephi has produced a significant number of pages, it has not required ten years of constant labor. Obviously, he worked on it periodically: and little, if any, of the text is contemporary with the events described. Nephi’s large plates may have had some contemporaneous accounts—perhaps including Lehi’s final blessings—but not necessarily. The earliest material about the departure from Jerusalem likewise might have been part of the large plates, but it is equally likely that Nephi wrote two separate accounts from memory, based on his personal participation in those events.