“As If He Were Dead for Two Days and Two Nights”

Brant Gardner

The experiences of Lamoni and individuals whose conversions are described in the Book of Mormon would have been easily understood as spiritual phenomena by Joseph Smith’s contemporaries. However, we should not conclude that these explanations were artificial any more than we should deny the reality of the spiritual experience of revival participants who “fell” in Joseph’s day. In the case of Lamoni and Alma2, their collapses are similar to Joseph’s contemporary accounts, although the periods of time they remained unconscious are somewhat longer. Significantly, these time extensions are typically Mesoamerican, with the two days and two nights adding up to four periods. (See commentary accompanying Mosiah 27:23.) In Mesoamerica the number four bears symbolic meaning, much like seven or twelve in the Old Testament. The experience was also parallel to the Mesoamerican understanding of the shamanic journey of the soul. (See commentary accompanying Alma 29:16.)

Text: There is no chapter break in the 1830 edition.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4