"Babes Opened Their Mouths and Uttered Marvelous Things"

Brant Gardner

Mormon’s description of this sequence is confusing. In verse 14, the children speak under the Spirit’s influence, presumably on the first day. In verse 15, Jesus ascends, closing events of the second day. Then Jesus returns, presumably on the third day, and the children again speak under the Spirit’s influence (v. 16). This verse makes it appear that the children were involved in a spiritual experience three times. The first occurred on the first day (3 Ne. 17:21–25) when fire encircled the children and angels ministered to them. However, they do not speak then.

Did the children speak twice? Probably not. Mormon has been summarizing events. In verse 15 the Savior ascends. In verse 16 he returns on the next day. On that third day he returns “and they both saw and heard these children; yea, even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things.” It appears that while writing verse 14, Mormon understood that he might be confusing the chronology and clarifies it. The events of both verse 14 (the children speaking) and verse 16 (the children speaking) are actually the same event; both occurred on the third day of the Savior’s visit.

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