“The Astonishment of Alma Was So Great That He Became Dumb”

Brant Gardner

Reference: Alma2’s similarity to Saul/Paul is clear in the physical incapacity that resulted from the visitation (Acts 9:8). Contrary to Saul, however, Alma2 is completely debilitated. His companions are functional, able to carry him to assistance. Saul was only blind, but Alma2 was dumb and so weak that he was “carried helpless.” That he was “laid” before his father indicates that he was too weak even to sit.

This physical weakness apparently resulted from a spiritual struggle, which he recounts later. Perhaps he was so preoccupied with the internal that his body was unable to cope with the external. Whatever the cause, his condition clearly stemmed from his experience with the angel.

Variant: Verse 19 states that “he could not move his hands.” Ross Geddes suggested to Royal Skousen that this might be a place where “hands” should have been “limbs,” as only the inability to move his hands would not require that he be “carried helpless.” Skousen examined Mosiah 27:22–23 and Alma 36:23 which reference this event, and both use “limbs,” not “hands.” There is no textual indication that this is a variant originating in the printer’s manuscript because the original is not extant for any of Mosiah. However, it would be a logical emendation as the clear intent is the ineffectiveness of more than just the hands.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3