“There Was Great Mourning and Howling and Weeping Among All the People”

Bryan Richards

Hugh Nibley

"We must bear in mind that what the Book of Mormon reports are the happenings as the people experienced them rather than as instruments would record them. Most earthquake data are of this very human nature, and exactly match the account in 3 Nephi. The Book of Mormon description emphasizes the fact that it was not any one particular thing but the combination of horrors that made the experience so terrible. As N.H. Heck puts it, what makes a major earthquake so devastating is 'the combination of forces . . . into an almost irresistible source of disaster.' The picture of cumulating disaster at the destruction of Guatemala City in 1541 strikingly parallels the story in the eighth chapter of 3 Nephi 'It had rained incessantly and with great violence. . . . The fury of the wind, the incessant, appalling lightning and dreadful thunder were indescribable. The general terror was increased by eruptions from the volcano to such a degree that . . . the inhabitants imagined the final destruction of the world was at hand...'
"We have then in the Book of Mormon a factual and sober account of a major upheaval in which by comparison with other such accounts nothing seems exaggerated. However wildly others may have chosen to interpret the Book of Mormon record, so far is it from bearing the marks of fantasy or wild imagination that it actually furnishes convincing evidence that the person who wrote it must have had personal experience of a major Meso-American quake or else have had access to authentic accounts of such." (Since Cumorah, p. 238)