Note:  I appologize for not getting this out in  a more timely fashion.   Averaging about an hour per chapter to do my Book of Mormon posts, you can see things can take a long time.   This lesson was seven chapters long.


ALMA 23-29

A Proclamation Protecting the Sons of Mosiah:  Alma 23:1-3

23: 1-2  This declaration of course would not pertain to King Lamoni’s kingdom in the Land of Ishmael, as King Lamoni’s father had allowed King Lamoni to independently rule the Land of Ishmael (see Alma 20:27).

23:3  “…ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness.”   This matches both the elements and order of Benjamin’s assertion that he had not permitted his subjects to “murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery, nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner or wickedness.”  (Mosiah 2:13; cf. Alma 30:10)

Grant Hardy notes:

Mormon hopes that the primary sources he inserts will have an effect upon his readers, but they also influence his own writing.  There are nearly two hundred instances in which his narration incorporates phrases he has picked up from embedded documents.  We see this, for instance, when the sons of Mosiah preach to to the Lamanites.  Through phrasal allusions, Mormon tells us indirectly that the converted Lamanites were taught these things.(Grant Hardy,  Understanding the Book of Mormon:  A Reader’s Guide, pg. 145)

The Origin of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies:  Alma 23:4-18

23:9 “…the land of Ishmael…”  This of course is the land over which King Lamoni ruled, not King Lamoni’s father.

23:14   The Amalekites were first introduced in Alma 21:2.  Nothing is known about the origin of the Amalekites (though the name may be an alternate spelling of “Amlicites”; see Alma 2-3. ) The people of Amulon are the descendants of the priests of Noah2.  See Mosiah 23:31-39.  If the Amalekites are indeed the Amlicites, then it would follow that they as well as the Amulonites were Nephite dissenters.

23:17, 18  “….no more called Lamanites….began to to be industrious…the curse of God did no more follow them.”    So they became lighter skinned?   I don’t believe it.  When we come to these  types of racist verses in the Book of Mormon, we have three choices:

  1. View them poetically.  Compare with Job 30:30; Song of Solomon 1:6.  However, the racist verses in the Book of Mormon do not read poetically.
  2. Throw God under the bus.  God is himself racist and curses people with dark skin.
  3. Throw Joseph Smith under the bus.   View these verses as a mirror of Joseph Smith’s racism. This is problematic historically, as Joseph Smith was progressive in regards to race for his time period.
  4. Throw Nephi and Mormon under the bus.  This I see as being less problematic.  It is my view that Nephi and Mormon were products of their time and were racist in regards to the Lamanites –  seeing characteristics in the Lamanites that were not actually there.

“people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi”  appears eight times between Alma 23:17  and 27:25 (with the first occurrence being the variant “Anti-Nephi-Lehies” ).  (Hardy, pg. 297, note 14)

The Anti-Nephi-Lehies Choose Pacifism:  Alma 24:1-6

24:2, 3 The king spoken of here is the father of King Limhi.

24:3 “…and he called his name Anti-Nephi-Lehi.”    Do the Anti-Nehi-Lehi’s after this, follow the Nephi tradition of naming the kingly successors the same name?  See Jacob 1:11

24:5  Why is Ammon mentioned first here?   Should not Aaron’s name have been mentioned first?  It was Aaron and his other brothers that converted King Lamoni’s father, and thus by default, the entire Lamanite kingdom (with the exception of the Land of Ishmael).    Specifically we know the Aaron and his brothers preached in Jerusalem (Alma 21:1), Middoni (Alma 21:12), while Ammon’s efforts were concentrated mostly to the Land of Ishmael only.  Is Ammon mentioned principally and by name because he was the oldest, not necessarily do to importance?   The Book of  Mormon seems to indicate that Aaron was the oldest, as Mosiah2‘s, people desired him [Aaron] to be Mosiah2‘s  successor (see Mosiah 29:2).  On the other hand there are some indications that Ammon was the leader, for the Book of Mormon states that Ammon was “the chief among them, or rather he did administer unto them..” (Alma 17:18).  Mosiah 27:39 seems to indicate by way of the  listing of the sons of Mosiah2, that Ammon was the eldest  of the brothers.    Did Aaron get the shaft in Mormon’s editing?    Why are the two explorers of the North West forever known as “Lewis and Clark” not “Clark and Lewis”?   I digress.

24:5 Who are “…all those who had come up with him (Ammon)…”? is this different from “…all his brethren…”?  Are “his brethren“, the rest of the Sons of Mosiah, or someone different?

24:6 “…and also their king…”   Shouldn’t it be stated “kings” instead?   At this point it is both King Lamoni and his brother, King Anti-Nephi-Lehi, that ruled over the converts.

King Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s Address:  Alma 24:7-16

This is an embedded speech from King Anti-Nephi-Lehi it has not been since Alma 22:18 that we have Mormon quoting his primary source.

Grant Hardy notes:

The transition to embedded documents is usually marked by a clear introduction and a shift from third-person to first-person voice.   The origins of speeches are sometimes difficult to ascertain since the Book of Mormon includes a considerable amount of direct discourse, and even historians as careful as Thucydides have been know to write dialogue and orations for their characters (based on available evidence and appropriate to the setting, of course).     There are, however, several additional major speeches in Mormon’s writings, which may have been either reported verbatim or significantly edited or even reconstructed by Mormon, including one given by King Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

Turning the narrative over to another voice is a dramatic editorial move, and such cases deserve careful scrutiny.  Why doesn’t Mormon simply paraphrase a speech or a letter and then describe the reactions of the original recipients?  And why these particular documents rather than others in his possession (e.g., we know that Alma2 preached at four cities during the Nephite Reformation, but we have sermons from only three [see Alma 8:3-5]).    Here all three of Mormon’s roles come into play.   The inclusion of primary sources certainly adds historical value and authenticity to an account of the past.  From the perspective of aesthetics, direct discourse enhances the drama of the narrative – even villains such as Korihor and Ammaron get to present their ideas in their own words – and Mormon seems to have admired the literary qualities of speeches he preserves, which suggest at least a partial explanation of why we have so many of Alma2‘s sermons.   As a moralist, Mormon may have wanted his readers to experience crucial moments of testimony and exhortation for themselves as they read the actual words of Benjamin,  Alma2, Amulek, and Jesus in real time. (Hardy, pg.105, 106)

The problem with swords in the Book of Mormon –

The Aztec name was macuahuitl (pronounced “mah-kwah-weetl”) or macana. When the indomitable Bernal Díaz, one of Cortez’s companions in his conquest of central Mexico, saw the macuahuitl at work in the hands of the enemy, he reported that “their swords, which were as long as broadswords, were made of flint which cut worse [i.e., more sharply] than a knife, and the blades were so set that one could neither break them nor pull them out.”(Bernal Díaz del Castillo, The Conquest of New Spain, tr. J. M. Cohen (New York: Penguin Books, 1963), 142—43).

A macuahuitl

A macuahuitl consisted of a long, flat piece of hardwood with grooves along the side into which were set and glued sharp fragments of flint or obsidian (volcanic glass). Several inches of the wood piece were usually left as a handgrip at the bottom, the rest of the instrument having a continuous sharp serrated edge; others had spaces between the blades that resulted in a serrated edge. While most of these weapons were blunt at the top, some were tipped with a sharp stone.

The Lamanite king named Anti-Nephi-Lehi admonished his fellow converts, “Since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren” (Alma 24:12). Many types of obsidian have a fine luster so the edges of a macuahuitl might well be described as bright.25 For example, Friar Juan de Torquemada in the sixteenth century described obsidian as “a stone which might be called precious, more beautiful and brilliant than alabaster or jasper.” (Juan de Torquemade, Monarquia Indiana (Book 13, chapter 34, in Fray Juan de Torquemade: Monarquia Indiana, ed. Miguel Leon Portilla, [Mexico: Editorial Porrua, 1969], 2:489).  But what might “stain our swords” have meant if a Lamanite or Nephite sword was in the form of a macuahuitl? Hamblin has noted that blood would deeply stain the wood in a weapon like the Aztec sword. The king’s metaphor for redemption that involved stained weapons and their cleansing might actually be more powerful if it referred to blood-soaked wood than to a metal or even an obsidian blade, which could easily be wiped clean. (

The Anti-Nephi-Lehies Bury Their Weapons:  Alma 24:17-19

24:19  “And thus we see…”   This is an editorial interruption that Grant Hardy calls ” summaries

Lamanites Are Converted to Pacifism:  Alma 24:20-30

Obviously given this master narrative, death on a scale, either minor or immense, can’t be considered in itself an absolute evil.  And, the Lord apparently recognizes this fact by apparently sanctioning, if the scriptures are to be believed, wars that are entered into in defense of principles consistent with the best interest  of  the human race;   freedom being the prime example at least in the Book of Mormon.    It seems to me that the only way to recognize the twin claims that war makes upon us, to our pacifist instincts as compassionate beings, and to our principled selves as defenders of what is good and true and expedient to God’s purposes, is to honor both of them.   And that’s precisely what the Book of Mormon does.   It holds up the pacifist Anti-Nephi-Lehies as examples of  the purest devotion and commitment.  These absolute compassion-filled specimens of piety.  And, it holds up their warrior-sons as models of courage, faith, and strict obedience.    So to my mine, this portrait that we get in the Book of Mormon,  is typical hegalian tragedy.   We have two sets of competing  demands and choosing either one is a correct choice.   But denying the legitimacy of either one is wrong.  That subtle point is also made in the Book of Mormon I think in the contrasting motives and fortunes of Moroni and Teancum. Right?   Both are warriors.  But, Moroni, who is essentially a mass killer.  Right?  As a commanding  general of a powerful army – he simultaneously affirms his humanity and compassion [by] mourning the necessity of war.  Whereas, Teancum allows his rage to obliterate his compassion.  And, in killing the Lamanite king in a fit of anger, he steps outside this protective umbrella that I think is represented by this inner-conflict that is the mark of true discipleship.  So, in killing without remorse, he denies his own humanity.  So,  that’s why I think that the Book of Mormon ultimately affirms both pacifism and just war.  (Dr. Terryl Givens Interview Faith and Politics; Founding Principles and Today’s Politics – The John Adam’s Center podcast;  4:15,  11/20/11)

24:22  “…and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with their God.”   Here,  Mormon commits the logical fallacy called “circular reasoning” or “begging the question“.

24:26 “And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain…”     Will someone explain this statement please?   It makes absolutely no sense to me.

24:27, 30 “Thus we…”  This is an editorial interruption by Mormon which Grant Hardy calls “moral generalizations”.

From Mosiah to Fourth Nephi there are over a hundred passages in which Mormon interrupts his narrative to speak directly to his readers.  Most of these are relatively brief comments explaining his editorial decisions and sources or noting the fulfillment of prophecies, but he also provides summaries, adds explanatory details, offers explicit judgments, and points out universal moral principles.    

It is this sort of moralizing that most accounts for our sense of the Book of Mormon as a didactic text, and indeed Mormon’s role as spiritual guide takes precedence in these passages.   Mormon is enough of a historian that he occasionally includes details that convince his readers that the martyrdom of more than a thousand believers was actually a good thing.

Mormon tells stories with unmistakable spiritual meanings, he presents characters as moral exemplars, and  he identifies patterns such as “the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvations of his people” (Alma 24:27).   These moral  observations come at the conclusion  of a specific tale, and is prefaced by “thus we see that….”  It is crucial to Mormon’s understanding of the world and his own role as moral guide that the lessons he conveys to readers actually come from the details of history.  Properly interpreted, history itself reveals religious truth, and in fact the totality of human experience offers sufficient evidence to demonstrate God’s divine plan and influence in earthly affairs.  Or at least this is what Mormon believes.   What makes his book interesting is watching how he selects, adapts, and arranges his material, particularly when his sources do not seem to adequately illustrate spiritual verities on their own.  Mormon is not free to simply create stories;  he is constrained by what he perceives as the facts of history.  But through his editing he often highlights certain features or encourages readers to see events in a particular light.  (Hardy, pg. 111, 112, 153,154)

Ammonihah Destroyed:  Alma 25:1-3

For an account of the sins of Ammonihah, see Alma 8:6-15:2.   For another report of their destruction, see Alma 16:1-11

This flashback allows for the retelling of this crucial event from two different perspectives.

The Descendants of Amulon and His Brethren: Alma 25:4-16

The story of Amulon and his brethren, who were priests of Noah is recounted in Mosiah 23-24. 

25:9 “…they are hunted at this day by the Lamanites.”    Which Lamanites are hunting the Amulonites?  The ones converted or the unconverted ones? If it is the unconverted ones, does that mean that during Mormon’s time these Lamanites are hunting Amulonites as well as fighting the Nephites?

25:9- Abinadi’s prophecy has two parts to it and is not only fulfilled here in Alma 25 but earlier also in Mosiah 19:20; Mosiah 20:21; as well as Mormon 1:19. Mormon, as editor, doesn’t make the fulfillment of prophecy so explicit in Mosiah 19:20, as he doesn’t give some kind of  editorial interruption like “and thus we see”  in Mosiah 19:20 as he does in Alma 25:9.  Here is where we can find Abinadi’s two prophecies that are later fulfilled:

    1. Mosiah 13:10  Abinadi prophecies that his death will be a “type and shadow of things to come”
    2. Mosiah 17:15-18 “…thy seed shall cause that many shall suffer even the pains of death by fire…and ye shall be smitten and be driven as a wild flock is driven…”  The original prophecy makes no mention of sheep, but of a“wild flock”.  This is an important detail as sheep did not exist in Mesoamerica prior to the European invasion.   Could the earlier phrase of “wild flock” give any insight into the type of animal of which Mormon and Abinadi were speaking?   Dr. John Sorenson notes:  “Real sheep’s wool was found in a burial site at Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, in an archaeological setting that gave no other indication of dating after the Spaniards arrived.”  (John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, (1996) p. 296)

25:9, 11 “…death by fire…”  occurs six times in the Book of Mormon, but always in relation to the martyrdom of Abinadi: Mosiah 17:15, 18, 20; 19:20 and in Alma: 25:9, 11. 

Alma 25:9, 12 “…thus the words of Abinadi were brought to pass…these words were verified…”   Here Mormon makes the editorial interruption which Grant Hardy calls “notices of fulfilled prophecies“.

Mormon is keen to demonstrate the rationality of faith by citing the successful fulfillment of prophecy.  For this type of argument to be persuasive, it is important that the original predictions be authentic – a quality that can best be inferred when prophecies are presented within embedded documents, with particular details, in the voice of the prophet himself, before their fulfillment.   Predictions that were remembered or reconstructed after the fact, in the words of the narrator, would not carry the same evidentiary weight.  Nevertheless, Mormon is not above helping his readers make connections by referring to or even quoting the original prophecy at the time it comes to pass.  [This] can serve as as reminder that there is more to the subject of embedded documents than just noting where Mormon incorporates such sources and speculating as to which of their inherent characteristics most impressed him.  To do so is to reduce his editorial efforts to a simple either/or decision: Should I include this document or not?  But it is also instructive to track how he integrates documents into his narrative – where he places them, how he sets the scene for firsthand accounts or follows up on them later,  whether they move forward or disrupt particular story lines, and whether they reinforce or call into question graphical inclinations through his handling of primary sources, and we can see how he employs this technique to strengthen the coherence of his history, to to avoid discussing certain subjects, or to highlight a resonant implication (Hardy, pg. 144,145).

More Lamanite Conversions:   Alma 25:13-16

25:13  The story of these Lamanites is taken up again in Alma 27:1

25:15 “…was a type of his coming…”   Mormon occasionally quotes people who identify certain things or events as “types,” typological thinking is not a major factor in his own understanding of history.  The only time he himself refers to types, he is describing the beliefs of others.  By contrast, Moroni does offer an explicitly typological interpretation in his own voice in Ether 13:6-7  (Hardy, pg. 108)

Through parallel allusion, Mormon tells us indirectly that the converted Lamanites were taught the same understanding of the Law of Moses that Abinadi had taught the priests of Noah. Compare the language of Alma 25:15 with Abinadi’s original language in Mosiah 13:27, 31.

Ammon3 Rejoices in Missionary Success:  Alma 25:17-26:9

25:17 “…he had also verified his word unto them in every particular…”  Once again we see a “notice of fulfilled prophecy”.  Compare this verse with Alma 17:11.

26:9 “…racked with hatred against us, yea, and they would also have been stranger to God.”   The benefits, as Ammon saw them, of the Lamanite conversion was two fold.

 AmmonBoasts in God:  Alma 26:10-37

26:17-20  There are three accounts of Alma2‘s conversion: Mosiah 27:8-31; Alma 36:1-30; Alma 38:6-8 .  However, in Alma 26:17-20, we get a fourth, but abbreviated account.  This account is not in the first person narrative of Alma, but is rather one of the sons of Mosiah recounting the conversion narrative.  We get a fifth mention of it in Alma 27:25.   Why would Mormon do this as editor?

26:20  for a fuller account of this event see Mosiah 27:8-37;  Alma 36:6-24.

26:21  Here Ammon gives his definition of the “natural man.”

26:24 Grant Hardy notes:

The sheer number of disparate voices [in the Book of Mormon] can tend to disintegrate or fragment the unity of the text.  Mormon helps us keep everything straight through headers and colophons, but in addition, he often incorporates phrases from embedded documents into adjacent narratives by way of preview or summary (in the former case, we must imagine that Mormon knew the contents of his sources before he copied them into his history).  In this way he strengthens the overall coherence of his account.  Some representative examples include the following:

  1. Mormon’s preview:  “And it came to pass that the Lord began to bless them, insomuch that they brought many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, they did convince many of their sins, and of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct.” (Alma 21:17) (Hardy, pg. 146,147)
  2. Embedded document (Ammon’s’ Testimony): “For they said unto us, ‘Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth?  Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers?”  (Alma 26:24)

The regular interplay between embedded documents and narrative paraphrase makes the Book of Mormon more than just a compilation of primary sources;  it show Mormon as a thoughtful, engaged editor who is consciously responding to and adapting the material at hand (Hardy, pg. 146-148)

26:27  compare to Alma 17:11

26:28  “…been forth amongst them…”  What does that even mean?

26:29  “…we have been stoned…”   Were they listening to The Grateful Dead or The Dave Matthews Band?

26:34   The verse break is a bit problematic.  “…they would take up arms against their brethren…”  To whom is this referring?  If this line was attached to the end of verse 33, it would make more sense as it would be explicitly referring to the Nephites.

26:35  “..we know that they have gone to their God, because of their love and their hatred for sin.”   Here, Ammon does not make the same logical fallacy that Mormon does earlier in Alma 24:22. Unlike Mormon, Ammon does not “beg the question.”

The Anti-Nephi-Lehies Flee to the Nephites:   Alma 27:1-15

This narrative is continued from Alma 25:13

27:4 The king spoken of here is King Anti-Nephi-Lehi, the brother of King Lamoni.

27:12 “…get this people out of this land…therefore get thee out of this land…” is similar to  the language when God told Alma1 to flee with his followers: “…get thou and this people out of this land…therefore get thee out of this land…” (Mosiah 24:23)  Bothe verses include a double injunction to “get out of this land” making an intentional allusion likely.

27:12, 15 Using direct quotes, Mormon recounts the Lord’s answer to Ammon’s prayer, yet Ammon doesn’t just take the Anti-Nephi-Lehies down to Zarahemla.  He goes and checks things out first.  Did he not trust the answer he got from God?   What is Mormon trying to teach here?

End of an Account of the Missionary Journeys of the Sons of Mosiah2:  Alma 17:5-27:15

The Sons of Mosiah2 Meet Alma2:   Alma 27:16-19

This narrative is continued from Alma 17:3-4.

27:18  “…now was not this exceeding joy?” This is an editorial interruption by Mormon which Grant Hardy calls “intensifying exclamations”. 

Compare the use of the word “penitent” as seen in 27: 18 with 26:21

27:19  Why is Ammon not in the list?

The Anti-Nephi-Lehies Are Given the Land of Jershon:  Alma 27:20-30

27:22  Jershon – Perhaps this comes from the Hebrew, “a place of inheritance.”

27:25 Here we get a brief, passing mention of Alma and the sons of Mosiah2‘s conversion. (see above – Alma 26:17-20).  Mormon could have included another account of Alma2‘s conversion, but chose not to.

27:26 They are never referred to again as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.

The phrase “people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi” appears eight times between Alma 23:17 and 27:25.  (with the first occurrence being the variant “Anti-Nephi-Lehies”); “people of Ammon”  can be found eighteen times between Alma 27:26  – when the change was made – and Helaman 3:12. One verse, Alma 43:11 has both forms as a gloss.  Apparently this sudden shift in nomenclature escaped the notice of Oliver Cowdery, who seems to have used the term “Anti-Nephi-Lehites” in a heading that he added to the top of page 338 of the original manuscript (above the text of Alma 53:10-22).  (Hardy, pg. 297, note 14.    Royal Skousen, ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: A Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text (Provo, UT:  FARMS, 2001), 429)

27:28 Again, through phrasal allusions, Mormon tells us indirectly that the converted Lamanites were taught:

  • The doctrine of resurrection, again as explained by Abinadi.  In Mormon’s narration, the newly converted Lamanites had a hope that death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.”   In Abinadi’s language:  “the grave hath no victoryand the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.” (Mosiah 16:8; with an echo of 1 Corinthians 15:54-55).  This last phrasing appears to be a favorite of Mormon’s, appearing not only in another paraphrase in Alma 22:14, but also in his direct appeal to readers in Mormon 7:5.   Paul himself was quoting Isaiah 25:8 Hosea 13:14. 

27:29 “…before they would take the sword or cimeter…”  Does this mean that they would in actuality take up a weapon and fight if pushed into a corner?

A Tremendous Battle:  Alma 28:1-7

28:1 begins nearly identical to the opening of Alma 30.   Mormon at times will use resumptive repetition as a framing device.  The material in between Alma 28:1 & the beginning of  Alma 30 largely consists of Alma2‘s comments on contemporary events, suggesting that these chapters be read as a literary unit.  Mormon shapes his text not only for clarity but also to highlight meaning, and he appears to exercise considerable control over this material (Hardy, pg. 106)

28:1.2  Was the battle in the wilderness or in the land of Jershon?

28:6 “…and now surely this was a sorrowful day…”  Editorial interruption called “intensifying exclamation.” 

Fifteenth Year Summary:  Alma 28:8-13

28:1 This may be the battle alluded to in Alma 16:12

28:8   The present tense indicates that the author of this editorial summary is Alma

28:13 “And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression…”   How does sin and transgression bring about inequality?

A Meditation by Alma2 on Missionary Work:   Alma 29:1-17

29:1 “O that I were an angel…”  Alma probably has in mind the particular angel who spoke to him “with a voice to shake the earth…”  (Mosiah 27:11, 15; this same angel was the one who commanded him to return to Ammonihah in Alma 8:15).  I cannot put a finger on why this is, but Alma’s meditation reminds me of Nephi’s psalm as found in 2 Nephi 4:15-35. 

29:1, 3-7  In verse 1  we might detect a hint of envy at the astonishing accomplishments of Alma’s friends.  Yet in the end Alma is reconciled to an appreciation of his own task and his own gifts.  Mormon’s editing emphasizes the contrast between Alma’s faithful but conventional achievements and the extraordinary triumphs of the sons of Mosiah in several ways:

  1. He makes the two narrative units structurally parallel, providing accounts that are roughly similar in length and scope.  Each unit contains three major incidents of teaching in three different locations.
  2. After providing basic equivalence for the two narrative blocks, Mormon devotes more than half of his account of the Nephite Reformation to the people of Ammonihah’s disastrous rejection of Alma’s words – a move that dampens our perception of his success.
  3. Mormon seriously underplays the political costs of Ammon’s idea of bringing thousands of Lamanite converts back to Nephite lands.
  4. Although Alma and the sons of Mosiah are described as operating by “the spirit of revelation and prophecy”, what this means in their day-to-day affairs varies significantly.   Alma preaches from professional expertise and confidence as the former chief judge.   The sons of Mosiah, on the other hand, are enthusiastic but nervous about their missions.  Their preaching takes the form of conversations.

The general effect of all this is a pair of narratives in which Alma’s accomplishments are substantial but those of the sons of Mosiah are extraordinary. (Hardy, pg. 173,174)

29:12 Random variation might be a possible explanation for some of the speech patterns found to be unique to Alma, but three of Alma’s distinctive expressions follow the logic of the narrative exactly.  An example is the following:

“Yea, I have always remembered the captivity of my fathers”  (Alma 29:12).   When counseling his son Helaman (in another embedded document), he says, “I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers, for they were in bondage….” (Alma 36:2).  He then, not surprisingly, picks up the theme again in Alma 36:29.  No one else in the Book of Mormon speaks like this.    This characteristic speech pattern is central to Alma’s conversion story. In Mosiah 27:16, as recounted by Mormon, an angel says to Alma the younger: “Now I say unto thee, Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam,  and in the land of Nephi;  and remember how great things he has done for them;  for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them.”  The nonrandom appearances of this phrase in the Book of Mormon is an indication of how deeply Alma was affected by this experience;  he spent the rest of his days urging his people to remember the captivity of their fathers and to receive the sam spiritual transformation theat he had undergone.  Mormon highlights the coherence of Alma’s life’s work by providing the documents that allow us to correlate his message with the story of his conversion, at least in the version that Mormon originally narrated at the end of the Book of Mormon.  (Hardy,pg. 136, 137)

29:17  There are phrases and characteristic speech patterns  of Alma.   That is to say, rather than being part of Joseph Smith’s general religious vocabulary, they show up in the Book of Mormon in very specific contexts;  they seem to be indicative of the way that Alma views the world.   Take for example “Sit down…in the kingdom of God/heaven.”  This phrase originates with Matthew 8:11 Luke 13:29,  but the phrase is not pervasive in the Book of Mormon;  rather, it seems to have been a favorite of Alma’s (Alma 5:24; 7:25; 29:17; 38:15).

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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