“Captive into the Wilderness”

Brant Gardner

The Gadiantons are extremely strong and exercise their might in many parts of the land. As part of their conquests, they take captives. Although the women and children were taken “more especially,” men were clearly taken as well. Given the Mesoamerican context, we can assume that the captured men will be sacrificed. There were other sacrificial rites the later Teotihuacanos employed in which women and children were also sacrificed. Mormon highlights the capture of the women and children to emphasize the Gadiantons’ wickedness. Mormon appears to accept capturing men in battle as a normal part of war, though he certainly disdained human sacrifice. But capturing women was dishonorable, according to his conventions of war. He reacts with similar disgust to the capture and sacrifice of women in his own day (Morm. 4:14–15). I suggest that it is possible that the emphasis on the Gadianton capture of women and children is tied to his understanding of the Gadiantons of his own day and represents information from his time that he has retroactively assigned to these earlier, similarly named and similarly destructive, Gadiantons.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5