Two hundred and forty four years breaks the previous pattern that Mormon had been using. Once again, it is possible that this really is a year in which an event occurred. However, what “happens” in this year is not a specific event, but rather the generic “the more wicked part of the people did wax strong.” This is the same kind of non-information we have seen previously. In a Mesoamerican society, four was an important number, as was twenty. Thus two twenty’s and four was a meaningful “round” number.
That Mormon tells us nothing new confirms his narrative strategy. Everything is building up to the endgame. The first two hundred years are the millennium-like aftermath of the visit of the Messiah. Beginning in the third hundred years things go down hill quickly. Mormon’s passage of time is symbolic as much as it is historical. Where once he passed years to mark the pace of the development of events prior to the first destruction of the Nephites, he marks the years again. This time, however, he is not telling a tale that requires the minute counting of single years. Decades suit him as well at this time. In between the marking of time, he does a lot of repeating. Here we have him continuing the theme of the increasing wickedness of the people, and a continuation of the multiple “churches.” This is not new information, but a continued emphasis on the trend. Mormon is not interested in specifics in the third hundred years. His interest is in the contrast between the righteousness of the first two hundred years after the visit of the Messiah and the near total collapse of Nephite religion in the third hundred years.
Chronological: Two hundred and forty four years in the Nephite count corresponds to 238 A. D. Two hundred fifty is 244 A.D, and two hundred and sixty is 253 A. D.