The complexity of the Book of Mormon, and a few other matters

The complexity of the Book of Mormon, and a few other matters October 17, 2017


Canada's first temple
With its new Meridian Idaho Temple, the Church seems to me to be reaching back for inspiration to the Cardston Alberta Temple, shown here in an image from the LDS Media Library, which is nearly a century old. That pleases me, because I love the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Cardston Temple, one of my absolute favorites, was plainly influenced by Wright’s “prairie style.”


From another of those unfinished manuscripts:


The Book of Mormon is remarkably complex. For instance, it claims to be the work of multiple authors, some of whose writings have then been redacted and abridged by a later one. The first of these authors is named Nephi, and he probably wrote his book late in his life, looking back at the events he had witnessed. He is trying to explain why he, the fourth of six brothers, was chosen to be the leader of his people when, under the traditional rule of primogeniture, that role should have fallen to his elder brother, Laman. His book is designed to demonstrate the justice of his cause from his youth through the many wars that his people had fought with the people who followed his two older brothers. It is partisan history, with a clear intent to persuade.[1]

The next author is Jacob, Nephi’s younger brother, who was born after the family’s departure from Jerusalem. He is not a political leader, for that role has remained in the line of Nephi, but he is a religious leader, and his writing focuses on subjects connected with his position in Nephite society. Enos, Jacob’s son, is the next author. But he writes relatively little, and it is obvious that he has not assumed the religious leadership role occupied by his father. The trend continues with a succession of minor authors, including Jarom, Omni, and others. Some write as little as one verse, and they are manifestly a family in decline. Finally, the records are turned over to the king.

The next actual author of the Book of Mormon—that is, the next author who speaks in his own voice—is the eponymous Mormon himself, who is the dominant author and editor of the book that bears his name. Involved in warfare from the time he was a teenager, watching with powerless horror the dwindling and decay of his people, he is understandably interested in military tactics, in the reasons for personal and societal decline, and, from time to time, expressing a rather pessimistic view of human nature. Even so, as he edits the writings of others—during times of enforced silence and inactivity—traces of their personalities and concerns are also preserved.

At the end, following the destruction of the Nephites and the death of Mormon, we have Moroni, his son, who, as a resurrected being will eventually bring the plates to Joseph Smith. Moroni writes a little on his own, wrapping up loose ends as he survives longer than he had anticipated, and edits the writings of a much earlier prophet named Ether, which were themselves the abridged version of a collection of documents from a much earlier people, the Jaredites, quite distinct from the Nephites in terms of their history, genealogy, and culture.

This is a very complex story, and the history of the writers suggests only a tiny portion of that complexity.

[1] See Noel Reynolds.




Available via the Interpreter Foundation’s website:


“Martin Luther’s Theses – 500 Years Later with Craig Harline”




You might find these photos and this video of the new, about-to-be-dedicated Meridian Idaho Temple — including its interior — of interest:




Here’s some new material for your already-overflowing “The Church just doesn’t care” and “The Church is only about profits, not about service” files:


“Mormon Leaders Visit Fire Evacuees in Northern California”


“Latter-day Saints Serve Fire Evacuees in Northern California”


“Church Preserves Precious Records of African Nation”


Here’s some general information about this depraved and un-Christian indifference:


“Humanitarian Services”


Here’s one of the places where you can contribute to the Church’s complete inaction:


Neuschwanstein Castle
This is the house typically assigned to the junior member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. It is located in the foothills of Bountiful, Utah.     (Wikimedia Commons public domain)



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