“If There Was No Mistake Made by This Man”

Alan C. Miner

In 3 Nephi 8:2 Mormon makes the following statement:

"And now it came to pass, IF there was no mistake made by this man [Nephi] in the reckoning of our time, the thirty and third year had passed away."

Some students of the Book of Mormon have jumped on this verse as evidence that the Nephite record keepers were unsure about their calendar, and thus unsure about the time of fulfillment of the prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite regarding the signs of the death of Christ and the completion of Christ's covenant with all mankind--the resurrection of Christ, which would redeem all mankind (see Helaman 14:20-27, 17). I want to point out that 3 Nephi 8:2 seems to be stated from a covenant perspective. In other words, by the use of the phrase, "IF there was no mistake made by this man," Mormon is actually highlighting and affirming the fact that Samuel's prophecy and the Lord's covenant with all of mankind is about to be fulfilled rather than telling the reader that he is unsure of the ability of Nephi to chronicle time correctly. The reader should note that in the previous verse (8:1), Mormon joined his testimony to that of Nephi in stating, "according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record" (3 Nephi 8:1) The reader will also note that once Mormon has testified of the truthfulness of Nephi's record, he proceeds to tell Nephi's story of the signs confirming Christ's death and resurrection with the exception of one thing. Nephi apparently omitted recording the fulfillment of Samuel's prophecy as found in Helaman 14:25: "And many graves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many." The reader will note that the Savior will personally correct this omission (see 3 Nephi 23:7-13). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 8:1]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary