“Many Friends and Kindreds”

Brant Gardner

Culture: Mormon’s mention of “many friends and kindreds” conforms with uncanny accuracy to Mesoamerican society in which the main power base for any ruler was his “kindred.” Positions of power held by one would benefit the entire family. Because political positions would be handed down from father to son, the kin groups had a permanent stake in making certain that their particular representative remained there, continuing to elevate the family’s status and wealth.

Symbolism: The rise of the secret combinations is a sure sign of impending destruction. Mormon’s formula is already well known: Destruction will surely come because the secret combinations have come.

Interestingly, Mormon does not designate this particular combination as “Gadiantons.” There is not enough information in the Book of Mormon to create a solid case, but my working hypothesis is that Mormon developed the name and attached the Gadianton name to both an internal disruption and cultural influences from Central Mexico. (See Helaman, Part 1: Chapter 3, “The Gadianton Robbers in Mormon’s Theological History: Their Structural Role and Plausible Identification.”) The original name came from a Nephite movement; but after that point, Mormon would have named “Gadianton” any secret combination. In this case, the secret combination is internal.

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