In  The Book of Enos, we continue to follow the prophetic line that is through Jacob, the brother of 1 Nephi.    Since it is still the small plates we are reading up to this point,  we hear nothing of the king(s) of the Nephites.

Faith as being organic

Mormons are fond of using Moroni 10:4-7 as the epistemology for knowing truth.  Unfortunatley we often us it as a witch hazel stick in trying to discern truth.   There are other examples that are more organic regarding the epistemology of spiritual truths.  Enos is an example.

vs. 6  “I knew God could not lie;”

vs. 11 “My faith began to be unshaken in the Lord;”

Here we see faith growing out of knowledge.  It appears, in this example, that knowledge is at least logically, if not chronologically, prior to faith.    In our religious tradition, knowledge is often seen to be superior to faith.    Think of fast and testimony meeting.  We say, “I know (fill in the blank) is true.”   How often do you hear, “I have faith that (fill in the blank) is true”? – almost never.   It is almost understood within the idioms we use, that faith is seen as lesser to knowledge.    Enos seems to argue for a different priority.

vs. 8 “go to”    Go to what?  I have no idea!!!  What do you think?


Problems with Nephite language

vs.   20  “wandering about in the wilderness”     The post on Lesson 7 went into this.  We’ll touch on it again. This phrase (in vs. 20)  is consistent with a possible racist view of the Nephites towards the Lamanites and is inconsistent with what we know anthropologically is necessary for the increase of a civilization’s population.  That is,  when vs. 20 is read in light of Jarom 1:6 “[the Lamanites] were exeeding more numerous than were they of the Nephites,” the two are contradictory.

Consider the following quotes from Dr. Michael Coe:

“From what we know about still existant societies with a similar way of life [hunter-gatherer], such as the Australian aborigines, concentrations of populations larger than the small band were quite impossible.  [It has been] estimated that on this level of development, corresponding roughly to the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe, 25 square miles of territory are required for the support of one person.” (Michael Coe, Mexico – 2nd edition, pg 28)

“[It has been] demonstrated that the density of population of  peoples on the Neolithic (or Formative) level of food-getting is 25 times greater than the figure for primitive hunters and gatherers – the domestication of plants and animals obviously resulted in a quantum increase in the world’s population, no matter how long the process.” (Coe, Mexico – 2nd edition, pg 52)  –  The Formative Period is the period when Lehi’s group would have landed in the Americas.

So how do the social sciences inform our interpretation of the Lamanite people found in the Book of Mormon?   What we are dealing with here is a racial caricature of the Lamanites by the Nephites (also consider 2 Nephi 5:21).   To be as large of a group as the record describes them, two things need to occur. First, it is quite possible that the Lamanites assimilated into the greater, already existent,  society of Meso-America.  Thus the “Lamanite” became a description of “the other.”   It did not necessarily mean just the descendants of Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael.   That would account for the Lamanites being “exeedingly more numerous” than the Nephites.  Second, to be such a large group, the Lamanites had to be a society that relied on agriculture, not wandering around “eating nothing but raw meat.” The Nephite description of the Lamanites is that of a hunter-gatherer society.


Flocks and cattle and goats and horses, Oh my!!

vs. 21  Here we find one of the textual problems of the book of  Mormon.    There appears to be no evidence of cattle in Meso America.  Horses were most likely extinct well before Lehi landed.   Possible explanations?

As Brent Gardner points out,  we have no descriptions of these animals acting like goats, horses, etc. so who knows what Joseph was actually translating when he dictated these words.

The following are two different perspectives on the whole horse problem.  Both come from well respected archeologist and anthropologist that specialize in Pre-Columbian America:


“What are the main archaeological challenges to the Book of Mormon? As a responsible archaeologist, looking at what’s come up, what are the challenges? …

‘The Book of Mormon is very explicit about what the Nephites brought with them to this land: domestic animals, domestic crops, all of Old World origin; metallurgy, the compass, things like that. Just take domestic animals, for example. I mentioned horses and cattle. Nobody has ever found the bones of horses and cattle in these archaeological sites. Horses were already in the New World, all right, but were wiped out about 7000 B.C. by people coming in from Asia. They never found horse bones in these early sites between the prime period, which is 500 B.C. to A.D. 200.; never found cattle bones there; never found wheat or rye and these other things that they grow in the Middle East. Plenty of evidence for all kinds of other things that are Native American, but nothing there. And that’s the problem: They simply haven’t shown up. ‘” (PBS interview with Dr. Michael Coe)

Dr. John L. Sorenson:

Pg 295, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon

“…but what about the horse?  True horses (Equus sp.)  were present in the western hemisphere long ago, but it has been assumed that they did not survive to the time when settled peoples inhabited the New World.  I recently summarized evidence suggesting that the issue is not settled.  Actual horse bones have been found in a number of archaeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula, in one case with artifacts six feet beneath the surface under circumstances that rule out their coming from Spanish horses.    Still, other large animals might have functioned or looked enough like a horse that one of them was what was referred to by horse.    A prehispanic figure modeled on the cove of an incense burner from Poptun, Guatemala, shows a man sitting on the back of a deer holding its ears or horns,   this is actually a women riding a deer)     and a stone monument dating to around A.D. 700 represents a woman astride the neck of a deer, grasping its horns.

Then there is another figurine of a person riding an animal, this is one from central Mexico.   Possibly, then, the deer served as a sort of “horse” for riding.  (That was the practice in Siberia until recently, so the idea is not as odd as moderns might think.  Besides, in the Quiche languages of highland Guatemala we have expressions like keh,  deer or horse,  keheh, mount or ride, and son on.)   As for pulling a vehicle, there are no data to suggest such a function in ancient America.  Thus, we simply do not understand what might have been the nature of the “chariot” mentioned in the Book of Mormon in connection with “horses.” (Alma 18 and 20;  3 Nephi 3:22)   Anyway, this horse and chariot combination is mentioned in the record in connection with only two geographical locations (part of the land of Nephi, and at a point between Zarahemla and Bountiful).   Whatever was involved in the way of animal and vehicle, it may not have been widely used.   Obviously, we will want to search for further sound information on “horses.”   Just a few years ago, nobody could document for Mesoamerican cultures that humans rode on any animal, that burdens were carried by animals,  or that cameloids were present.  Discoveries may yet clarify remaining obscurities.   At the same time, we need to study the Book of Mormon text with extreme care to be clear about what it does and does not say.   For  example, the way “horses” are referred to in 3 Nephi 4:4 suggests that their major use was as food, not to carry things.  We need constantly to be clarifying our reading of the scripture.”

The Book of Jarom
vs. 5/13  I decided to do some math with verse 5.   Nephi, Jacob, Enos, and now Jarom are the record keepers so far;  that makes four so far.  Two-hundred years divided by 4 prophets is 50 years per prophet.   Can we assume the average age of these men was 50 years old at the time of their passing?  I wonder if that is consistent with what we know the average age was for a Native American during that time period?

vs.  6  Already beat that one to death.

vs. 7  We get mention of “Kings”.  Woohoo!  And apparently they were righteous.

vs. 8  There are a couple of problems here.   If one holds to a limited geography model of the Book of Mormon and that it occurred in Mesoamerica, gold is a problem.   Gold did not exist in Mesoamerica until much later.  It did exist in Peru.   It came more north later as trade was established beteween Mesoamerica and Peru.   There are fancy ways that apologists get around the gold problem.   Steel?  Steel is anachronistic.    It is a huge problem.  This is even admitted to by Brent Gardner.

The Book of Omni

vs 1   Omni presents a different purpose for his writing than does Enos.   Jarom 1, 2 speaks of preserving genealogy and for the benefit of the Lamanites.  Jarom’s purpose seems to be consistent with Enos’ request (Enos 13, 16).   Does this shift in purpose occur because Omni is a “wicked man“? (vs. 2)

vs. 9  Why did Amaron pass the Small Plates to a brother and not a son?   Was his posterity wicked and Chemish and Chemish’s posterity were righteous?  Did he have only daughters and the record could not be passed onto a daughter?

vs. 12 Leads me to believe Amaleki left the Land of Nephi with Mosiah, even though he speaks of the people who left with Mosiah in the third person (they).   Or, he was born after the departure as vs 23 seems to hint.   If it is the latter, then that would explain why Amaleki uses the third person, they, when speaking of Mosiah’s band of Nephites. 

We learn that Mosiah was made a king of the people of Zarahemla.  He carried records with him (presumably the Large Plates as well as the Plates of Brass).  So are we to assume that Mosiah was indeed a king over the people of Nephi prior to discovering Zarahemla and his people?  If so why wasn’t he called Nephi as directed in Jacob 1:11?

vs. 17, 18 These verses speak to the corruption of language.   As two different groups of people are separated, their languages will continue to develop, but along different tracks.  This is what most likely we see with the original text of the Book of Mormon (reformed   Egyptian).  I highly doubt if a “reformed Egyptian” text was discovered, that it would immediately be understood.   A corollary would be what  Darwin observed with different finches developing differently  on different islands of the Galapagos.

vs. 25 Here we see the Small Plates and the Large Plates coming under the responsibility of one person.

vs. 26 “my beloved brethen”  Is this speaking directly to the Lamanites? (see Jarom 2)

vs. 30 What does it mean”these plates are full”?   Jarom doesn’t write more because “the plates are small.” (Jarom 14)  What’s going on here?




Here we get introduced for the first time, to  the second major narrator of the Book of Mormon.   What will be Mormon’s concerns as a narrator compared to Nephi?   We will come to know Mormon gradually and indirectly at first.   It is not until we get to chapters 1-7 of The Book of Mormon, that we get the details of his life.

The language here  (in The Words of Mormon) gets confusing at times.   Mormon is explaining how he added the Small Plates onto his abridgment of the Large Plates and why he did it.   The following may clarify Mormon’s sometimes ambiguous language regarding what record is what:

vs. 2 these records”   Include Mormon’s abridgment of the Large Plates plus the Small Plates that he attached to the end of his abridgment.   The other possibility is that he was going to pass on the abridgment of the Large Plates to Moroni until he came across the Small Plates, then added them at the end and then passed them onto Moroni.

vs. 3, 4, 6 “these plates” Refers to the Small Plates that were attached to the end of Mormon’s abridgment of the Large Plates.   It is what is now 1 Nephi through Omni.

vs 5 “these things” This refers to the Small Plates.  Here we get a clear indication that they were added on at the end.  But, the text Joseph Smith has given us has the Small Plates at the beginning.

vs. 6 remainder of my record”  This is Mormon’s abridgment of the Large Plates.

vs. 9 “my record”   This one is really confusing.  It can either refer to just the abridgment of the Large Plates or this is what he ultimatley gives to his son Moroni which includes the abridgment of the Large Plates as well as the Small Plates (1 Nephi – Omni).

vs. 9 “Plates of Nephi”   These are the Small Plates.   Here we get a clear idea that in the original Gold Plates, 1 Nephi – Omni are actually attached to the end of Mormon’s record.

vs. 10 “these plates”  This refers to the Small Plates.

vs. 10 “the other plates”  These are the Large Plates that were being kept by the kings.

After Martin Harris loses the original 116 pages where does Joseph pick up the translation?  1 Nephi?  The Book of Mosiah?  The Words of Mormon?  We will answer that question on the next post.

vs. 3 “small account of the prophets”  Does Mormon mean this in a very general way or does he consider the wicked Omni as a prophet as well?

vs. 14, 15 Omni 24   Is it really the descenants of Laman and Lemuel that were fighting the Nephites in the Land of Nephi as well as the Zarahemlaites/Nepites in the Land of Zarahemla?    I would argue that this shows “Lamanite” as referring to anyone that is not a “Nephite” – or anyone that is not “us”.

I have attached a time line I wrote up about 5 years ago when I was reading Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling”  It has helped me understand the translation time line of the Book of Mormon.  I carry it in my scriptures.


Compiled from Rough Stone Rolling , Richard Bushman

Michael Barker 2006

1822: Joseph receives first seer stone while working for Willard Chase digging a well. Some indicate it was possibly found under a tree around Lake Erie (Joseph is 16-17 years old).

Sept. 21 & 22, 1823: Moroni appears three times to Joseph Smith, beginning on the evening of the 21st. On the morning of the 22nd, Joseph collapses after being sent home from work and has a fourth visit. Moroni tells Joseph to tell his father of his (Moroni) visits. Joseph meets with Moroni for the next four years (Joseph is 17 years old).

Oct. 1825: Josiah Stowell hires Joseph Sr. and Jr. to dig for Spanish silver (Joseph is 19 years old).

Nov. 1825: “Articles of Agreement” indicate Joseph Sr. & Jr. to receive 2/11 of money found. Less than one month later Joseph Jr. convinces Stowell to stop treasure hunting; the company is dispanded.

March 1826: Peter Bridgeman (Josiah Stowell’s nephew) enters complaints that Joseph Smith Jr. is a disorderly person (treasure hunter).

Jan. 18, 1827:  Joseph marries Emma (Joseph is 21 years old).

Sept. 22, 1827: Joseph receives plates from Moroni. He leaves his family home around 12:00 am to get them (leaving Sept. 21st) (Joseph is 21).

Dec. 1827: Emma and Joseph move to Harmony, Pennsylvania and live in a two bedroom home owned by Emma’s brother.

Feb 1828: Martin Harris arrives in Harmony, Pennsylvania to transcribe The Book of Mormon (Joseph is 22).

Feb1828: Harris arrives at Columbia College to show Professor Charles Anthon The Book of Mormon characters; it does not appear Joseph has quite figured out how to translate yet.

April 1828: Harris returns to Harmony and translation begins.

April 12-June 14, 1828: Joseph translates using the Urim and Thumim with Martin Harris as scribe. A curtain is between the two to prevent Harris from seeing the plates. The first 116 pages are translated (called The Book of Lehi).

June 1828: Harris allowed to take 116 page manuscript to show 5 people; it gets lost.

June 15, 1828: Joseph and Emma’s son, Alvin, dies.

Around June 15, 1828: Emma sends Joseph to Palmayra, New York to check on Harris; the 116 page manuscript is lost.

July 1828: Joseph returns to Harmony and translation stops.

Sept. 22, 1828:  Joseph receives the interpreters again. Joseph and Emma work on translation very little but have to stop to make preparation for winter.

April 5, 1829: Samuel Smith brings Oliver Cowdery to Joseph and Emma’s home.

April 6, 1829: Joseph and Oliver work together on translation. The seer stone is used primarily to translate (Joseph is 23).

Late May/Early June 1829: Translation of 1 Nephi begins.

May 15, 1829: John the Baptist appears to Oliver and Joseph. They receive the Aaronic Priesthood and baptize each other (Section 13).

May 1829: Oliver writes David Whitmer, who lives in Fayette, New York, to see if he has work for Joseph and himself.

While in Fayette various people transcribe: Emma, John Whitmer (who helps a lot and his writing is seen on manuscripts of 1 Nephi), Christian Whitmer; but it is primarily Oliver.

Around July 1, 1829 (Lucy Smith dates it middle of June): The Book of Mormon is completed (Joseph is 23).

June 11, 1829: The title page of The Book of Mormon is delivered to get copyright.

Late June/ early July 1829: Joseph contracts with Mr. Gardin in Palmayra to print The Book of Mormon.

Mid August: The first 24 pages of The Book of Mormon are delivered to Gardin’s print shop in Palmayra.

Aug 25, 1829: Martin Harris mortgages his farm as security in case The Book of Mormon does not sell.

Dec. 29, 1829: Abner Cole (pseudonym O. Dogberry), publisher of a weekly Palmayra newspaper, “The Reflector”, publishes pirated portions of The Book of Mormon excerpts on the front page.

Jan 13 & 22, 1830: Subsequent two issues of “The Reflector” contain more excerpts; nothing more is published.

March 26, 1830: Gardin has an add printed in the local paper stating that The Book of Mormon is for sale (Joseph is 24).

March 1830: Martin Harris states, “I want a commandment (revelation)”, because The Book of Mormon is not selling. Doctrine and Covenants section 19 is the revelation.

April 7, 1831: Martin Harris sells his farm.



Miguel is a Guatemalan-American Mormon living in the Northwest with his family. He is one of the proprietors of the Rational Faiths blog.

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