“More Than a Thousand Brought to the Knowledge of the Truth”

Brant Gardner

Redaction: Mormon’s moral is that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies’ righteous martyrdom resulted in an even greater harvest of souls. While this detail could have been true, it feels more to me like Mormon’s contrived example.

Seeing Mormon as an active editor who is shaping his material for a particular purpose should not diminish his efforts in our eyes. Mormon is an editor in the ancient mold, not a historian in the modern sense. While the modern historian would have scruples about going beyond the source documents to speculate freely, the ancient author was driven more by his purpose than his data. Historian Michael Grant notes: “They were more concerned to offer guidance.… They were more determined than ourselves to estimate history and public affairs by a moral yard-stick.” For Mormon, the story’s purpose is more important than its absolute accuracy.

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