“Gadianton’s Robbers and Murderers”

Brant Gardner

Mormon brings his theme of the Gadianton robbers to the forefront. As with the last appearance of the Gadiantons, this appearance is also problematic, and the complexities of the narration will show that Mormon continues to place on this group a symbolic meaning that supercedes its historical meaning or even, perhaps, entity. For Mormon, the Gadiantons are always a cohesive and singly-named group. In the text, however, they show up in many places and guises. In this case, the Gadiantons had disappeared for a while, and when last seen where a small internal dissention among the Nephites. In this appearance they are still among the Nephites, but they are in power (as we shall see below). In addition, they have expanded and are now “more numerous among the more wicked part of the Lamanites.”

There are two aspects of this comment about the Gadiantons and the Lamanites that are interesting. The first is that they are present among the Lamanites at all. The indication of the Gadiantons among the Nephites is that they are subversive of the government, but that their leanings are toward Lamanite politico-religious forms. Nevertheless, when they are among the Lamanites, they appear to also be somewhat subversive and foreign among the Lamanites. Of course they exist among the more wicked part of the Lamanites as that is where they have the greatest access to power, and through power, wealth. Mormon will use righteousness as the “Gadianton-antidote” in his narrative.

The second aspect of this statement is that there is a “more wicked part” of the Lamanites. There was a great Lamanite conversion that at least temporarily appeared to be the entirety of the Lamanite population. We noted at the time that it was unlikely that it was a complete conversion of all Lamanites, and here Mormon confirms that there were many Lamanites who were not converted. This tells us both that there were unconverted Lamanites, and that Mormon’s historical descriptions continue to follow his editorial purposes, and not the dictates of absolutely accurate history from a modern perspective.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon