“They Heard a Voice Voice Voice Voice”

Alan C. Miner

According to Donald Parry, "repetition" is the frequent appearance of the same word within a passage of scripture. This repeated word may be found at irregular intervals, i.e., at the beginning, middle, or end of the sentence. The chief purpose for the repetition of individual words is to draw attention to the word being repeated, or to cause the repeated word to become the principal theme of the passage. In other words, the inspired authors had a purpose in employing the repetition of the same word. Such frequent usage tends to join the several expressions of the paragraph into a unified body -- the various parts connected by the repeated word. Often this is done in such a subtle way, that a hasty and cursory reading of the text may persuade the reader to miss its significance. Attention should be paid to the frequent recurrence of the word "voice" in 3 Nephi 11:3. In this passage, the voice of the resurrected Jesus Christ is described by Nephi:

They heard a voice as if it came out of heaven;

and they cast their eyes round about,

for they understood not the voice which they heard;

and it was not a harsh voice,

neither was it a loud voice,

nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice

it did pierce them.

Nowhere in the scriptures is the voice of the Lord depicted in such a fashion. His voice is neither harsh nor loud. To the contrary, the voice of God is small, yet it has qualities which pierce the soul. Examples of this figure of speech are plentiful in the Book of Mormon. For instance, the word "filthy" is found five times in 1 Nephi 15:33-34; "names" six times in Alma 5:57-58; "order" 13 times in Alma 13:1-16; "light" seven times in Alma 19:6; "joy" seven times in Alma 27:17-18; "man" seven times in Alma 48:11; "remember" eleven times in Helaman 5:6, 9-10; "treasures" five times in Helaman 13:19; and "lifted" five times in 3 Nephi 27:14-15. [Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, F.A.R.M.S., pp. xlvi-xlvii]

3 Nephi 11:3,5 They heard a voice as if it came out of heaven . . . and their eyes were towards the sound thereof ([Illustration]): "And Their Eyes Were towards the Sound Thereof." Artist: Harold I. Hopkinson. [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ensign, September 1991, inside front cover]

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