“If These Things Are Not True”

Alan C. Miner

In Moroni 10:4-5 we find the prophetic promise:

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Donald Parry states the following:

The internal framework of the Book of Mormon is indeed complex. The events identified in the book cover a time span of approximately 2,600 years and occur in both the Old and New Worlds. The book was written by more than twenty authors, edited and redacted by inspired editors, and translated by a prophet some 1,400 years after the final Nephite prophet hid the gold plates. The work contains the words of both prophet and false prophet, Christ and antichrist, hero and villain. Several languages have influenced the final product, including Adamic, Egyptian, Hebrew, reformed Egyptian, and English. The work contains many literary types--including historical narrative, poetic parallelism, biography, allegory, law code, judgment speech, lamentation, blessing and cursing, prayer, epistle, psalm, and parable. It contains such symbolic figures as metaphor, simile, synecdoche, metonymy, implication, and personification. As in the Bible, prophetic speech forms of various types appear throughout the Book of Mormon. These include the Messenger Formula, Proclamation Formula, Woe Oracle, Oath Formula, Revelation Formula, and Announcement Formula. The final composition of the book as translated by Joseph Smith is a product of several earlier sources, including the brass plates, the record of Lehi, the large plates of Nephi, the small plates of Nephi, the plates of Mormon, and the twenty-four gold plates of Ether. Although the book's goals and purposes are religious, the work treats many of the political, social, geographical, historical, and cultural elements that make up any civilization

Yet with all of its complexities, the internal consistency of the book is remarkable. . . . Joseph Smith's statement concerning the Book of Mormon is appropriate here: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth."

The Book of Mormon "contains 337 proper names and 21 gentilics (or analogous forms) based on proper names." Of the 337 proper names, "188 are unique to the Book of Mormon": for example, Abinadi, Amalickiah, Amulek, Morianton, Mormon, Moronihah, Kishkumen, Helaman, Hagoth, Gadianton, Omni, and Riplakish; 149 of the 337 proper names are common to both the Bible and the Book of Mormon: for example, Samuel, Isaiah, Gideon, Benjamin, Aaron, Noah, Shem, Timothy, and Jacob. Typical of the ancient Semitic languages from which the Nephite record is derived, the Book of Mormon does not use surnames or attach modern titles to its names, such as Mr. Mrs., Dr., Professor, Reverend, Count, or Earl. The names, as transcribed into English language, do not use the letters q,x, or w, nor do the names begin with either the characters W or F, a fact shared with the names of the Old Testament. Much can be learned from a study of the names as Paul Hoskisson has shown, for they may provide an indication of the types of languages used by the Nephites, Jaredites, and Lamanites; they present a picture of Book of Mormon civilizations and cultures; and they provide external clues about when the Book of Mormon record developed in the ancient world.

George Reynolds and Hugh Nibley have conducted a number of studies of the history of Book of Mormon names and have shown that some have Hebrew and Egyptian roots and relationships. B. H. Roberts pointed out that there is a "quite marked distinction between Nephite and Jaredite proper names." With few exceptions, Jaredite names "end in consonants, while very many of the Nephite names end in a vowel."

Robert J. Matthews has created a serviceable who's who of Book of Mormon personalities, wherein he lists several social, political, and religious groupings present in the book. He places personalities into categories and lists the following numbers of individuals within each group: four antichrists, twenty-seven Nephite military leaders, two Jaredite prophets, two priests of Noah listed by name, twelve disciples of Christ, four robbers, seven explorers, one harlot, twelve heads of the Church, two leaders of the Jews, twelve judges, eight Lamanite kings, one lawyer, thirty-one Jaredite kings, two Jaredite military leaders, six Lamanite military leaders, eleven missionaries, two Mulekite leaders, nine Nephite kings, a number of Nephite and Lamanite prophets, twenty Nephite record keepers, three shipbuilders, five spies, and ten villains plus several other characters or groups who are unnamed in the record. . . . The record provides thousands of implicit and explicit facts and items about these individuals, both named and unnamed. Yet these facts are always kept straight. Never is an individual described in one way at one point and in another way later, unless the change is explained. . . .

The Book of Mormon also sets forth a host of historical references, characters, and circumstances that so far are found only within its pages. Consider, for example, the treatment of wars and warfare in the work. The book features fifteen major conflicts, including the "Early Tribal Wars," the "Wars of King Laman's Son," the "War of Amlici," the "Destruction of Ammonihah," the "War of the Ammonite Secession," the "Zoramite War," the "First and Second Amalickiahite Wars," the "Rebellion of Paanchi," the "War of Tubaloth," the "War of Moronihah," the "War of Gadianton and Kishkumen," the "War of Giddianhi and Zemnarihah," the "Rebellion of Jacob," and the three phases of the "Final Nephite Wars." The Book of Mormon writers and editors dedicated anywhere from a few verses (Rebellion of Paanchi, Helaman 1:1-13) to twelve chapters (Second Amalickiahite War, Alma 51-62) to each of the major conflicts.

Students of the Book of Mormon can attach too many of the fifteen major wars approximate dates or seasons, geographical locales, underlying causes, battle tactics, military maneuvers, and final outcomes. Further, individual campaigns and engagements existed within each major war. Within the framework of the fifteen major wars mentioned above, John L. Sorenson has identified more than one hundred distinct conflicts in the record. . . . In addition, the record identifies many of the weapons and armor used by different warriors at various times, including the sword, cimeter, bow and arrow, breastplate, shield, head-plate, arm-shield, club, sling, and "all manner of weapons of war" (Alma 2:12).

Yet with all these details, the presentation of wars and warfare in the Book of Mormon contains a textually consistent account that both recalls historical reality and lacks contradictory elements. From the first battle mentioned in 2 Nephi 5:34 to the final Nephite battle at Cumorah (Mormon 6:5-15), all of the wars and battles are interwoven into the Book of Mormon text to create a harmonious narrative. . . .

Years ago, Susan Easton Black tabulated all the occurrences of the names and titles of Jesus in the Book of Mormon. . . . In all, 101 names or titles of Christ are collectively presented 3,925 times in 6,607 Book of Mormon verses. Black's tabulation of the names and titles shows that on average, one name title of Christ appears once every 1.7 verses. . . .

The Book of Mormon contains not only a great variety of names and titles for Jesus, but also many thousands of personal pronouns that refer to him. . . .

Beyond the use of deific names, titles, and pronouns in the Nephite record, witnesses of Jesus appear in the form of symbols, presented through such figures of speech as metaphor, simile, synecdoche, metonymy, implication, and personification. . . .

As noted, by far the most significant personality identified in the book is Jesus Christ, and the weightiest topics pertain to his character, divine mission, and eternal goals. References to Christ serve as an adhesive, binding every verse of the work into a single, integral unit. All other parts of the book serve as appendages to this focus. The topic of Jesus and his mission fits squarely with the stated purpose of the book as listed on the title page and elsewhere in the book. . . .

From the opening phrase, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents," to the concluding expression, "the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen," the Book of Mormon is textually consistent, internally concordant, and written with integrity. If the reader follows the proper prescriptions, the Holy Ghost will bear witness of the book's truthfulness, and the reader will draw closer to God through reading it and applying its principles.

My testimony of the divinity and Sonship of Jesus Christ, the calling of the seer Joseph Smith, and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is based upon the Spirit-to-spirit relaying of truth that comes through the operations of the Holy Ghost. This testimony, however, is coupled with a number of internal evidences that convince me of the book's historicity and divinity. The record's textually consistent testimony is but one internal evidence of its truthfulness. . . . [Donald W. Parry, "The Book of Mormon: Integrity and Internal Consistency," in Susan E. Black ed. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-Day Scholars, pp. 210-219]

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