Part 10: 3 Nephi 1 – 3 Nephi 18
The introduction to this series on internal consistency in the Book of Mormon is found in part 1 here.
This part includes examples of internal consistency from the first half of 3 Nephi which haven’t already been covered in previous parts of this series due to their relation to earlier chapters in the dictation.
77. 3 Nephi 1:1 and Mosiah 29:46 — More on the tight control of the timeline.
In 3 Nephi 1:1, we get details about two systems of time reckoning
Now it came to pass that the ninety and first year had passed away and it was six hundred years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem
Consequently, these two systems are 600-91 = 509 years apart. This is consistent with Mosiah 29:46, where the period of judges started:
making in the whole, five hundred and nine years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem
78. 3 Nephi 1:1 and 3 Nephi 3:1 — Lachoneus
Still in the same verse, 3 Nephi 1:1, we read:
and it was in the year that Lachoneus was the chief judge and the governor over the land
This is a new name in the Book of Mormon. Normally, when a new name is introduced, he immediately becomes part of the narrative, but not always. Items 18, 19 and 23 are examples of that. In this case, Lachoneus is not mentioned again until two chapters later (in 3 Nephi 3:1).
79. 3 Nephi 5:12 and Alma 21:1 — Mormon’s introduction
3 Nephi 5 is an interesting chapter because Mormon introduces himself to the reader for the first time, deep into his abridgement of the large plates of Nephi. In verse 12, he also tells us where his name comes from:
And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression.
The land of Mormon where Alma-1 established a church has not been mentioned since Alma 21:1. “After their transgression” likely refers to the wickedness under the reign of king Noah.
80. 3 Nephi 8:8-10 and 3 Nephi 9:3-5 — Matching natural disasters and cities
The signs of Christ’s death are now being fulfilled, as foretold by Samuel the Lamanite:
8 And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.
9 And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned.
10 And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah, that in the place of the city there became a great mountain.
Zarahemla burning was specifically foretold and discussed in item 70. But the fate of these three cities (Zarahemla, Moroni and Moronihah) cannot be forgotten at this point in the dictation. In the next chapter, 3 Nephi 9:3-5, a voice is heard from heaven, saying:
3 Behold, that great city Zarahemla have I burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof.
4 And behold, that great city Moroni have I caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned.
5 And behold, that great city Moronihah have I covered with earth, and the inhabitants thereof, to hide their iniquities and their abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them.
81. 3 Nephi 10:14,16 and 1 Nephi 19:11-12 — “Zenos did testify of these things”
In 3rd Nephi chapter 9, after Mormon describes the natural disasters at the death of Christ, he is eager to point out the fulfillment of prophecy.
14 And now, whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them, and see and behold if all these deaths and destructions by fire, and by smoke, and by tempests, and by whirlwinds, and by the opening of the earth to receive them, and all these things are not unto the fulfilling of the prophecies of many of the holy prophets.
Which holy prophets? In verse 16, he says that
Zenos did testify of these things
When we compare with 1st Nephi 19:11-12, we find Nephi quoting Zenos’ testifying of these things
11 For thus spake the prophet: The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel at that day, some with his voice, because of their righteousness, unto their great joy and salvation, and others with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke, and vapor of darkness, and by the opening of the earth, and by mountains which shall be carried up. 12 And all these things must surely come, saith the prophet Zenos
82. 3 Nephi 10:9 and 1 Nephi 19:11-12 — More prophets testify of the destruction at the time of Christ’s death
Notice that in item 81, Mormon refers to “many of the holy prophets,” not just Zenos. It is interesting to note that Nephi gave additional details about the destruction which would accompany the death of Christ.
At the time of Christ’s death, we find this description:
9 And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away. (3 Nephi 10)
Nephi prophesied of this destruction accompanying the death of the Savior:
11 For thus spake the prophet: The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel at that day, some with his voice, because of their righteousness, unto their great joy and salvation, and others with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke, and vapor of darkness, and by the opening of the earth, and by mountains which shall be carried up. 12 And all these things must surely come, saith the prophet Zenos. And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers. (1 Nephi 19)
83. 3 Nephi 10:18 and 3 Nephi 2:14-16 — “those who had been called Lamanites”
Notice the phrase in italics from 3 Nephi 10:18
And it came to pass that in the ending of the thirty and fourth year, behold, I will show unto you that the people of Nephi who were spared, and also those who had been called Lamanites, who had been spared…
What an unusual way to refer to a group of people! The background is given in 3 Nephi 2:
14 And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;
15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;
16 And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites.
This is a subtle example of internal consistency.
84. 3 Nephi 12:26, Alma 11:7-8 and Alma 30:33 — Senine
As Christ repeats the words of the Sermon on the Mount to the Nephites, we know there are some differences from the text in Matthew 5-7. One interesting difference is Matthew 5:26, where Christ is using the Jewish currency of the time, usually translated to penny or farthing in English, depending on the translation. In 3 Nephi 12:26, Jesus says:
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence until thou hast paid the uttermost senine. And while ye are in prison can ye pay even one senine? Verily, verily, I say unto you, Nay. (a)
The word, “senine” is not known from the Bible but is consistent with Alma 11, where we learn about the Nephite currency
7 A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain.
8 Now the amount of a seon of gold was twice the value of a senine.
There is one other place, the “senine” is mentioned in the Book of Mormon, in Alma 30:33
And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor (b)
There are 61 chapters between Alma 30 and 3 Nephi 12. This small detail would need to be retained in the memory of the author. It is also important to note that of all the denominations of currency described in Alma 11, a senine has the lowest value (smallest piece of gold) making it roughly analogous to the “penny.”
85. 3 Nephi 15:2 and 3 Nephi 12:47 — A reminder of a previous statement
When Jesus has completed the “Sermon at the Temple,” he can sense that the people wonder about something he said
2 And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new (3 Nephi 15)
The “saying” is a reference to what Jesus said in the sermon in 3 Nephi 12:47
Old things are done away, and all things have become new.
This particular passage is unique in the Sermon at the Temple among the Nephites and not found in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew.
86. 3 Nephi 18:37 and Moroni 2 — Moroni fulfills Mormon’s editorial promise
We have seen several examples of editorial promises by Mormon. This is the only one that is not fulfilled by him. Rather, it is fulfilled by his son, Moroni:
And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost. And I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true. (3 Nephi 18:37)
Mormon’s writings do not contain any more information about this. The editorial promise is fulfilled in Moroni 2.
1 The words of Christ, which he spake unto his disciples, the twelve whom he had chosen, as he laid his hands upon them—
2 And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.
3 Now Christ spake these words unto them at the time of his first appearing; and the multitude heard it not, but the disciples heard it; and on as many as they laid their hands, fell the Holy Ghost.
End of Part 10
As we finish up part ten, let’s take a look at our updated arc diagram:
Jeff Markham has been an avid student of the Book of Mormon his entire life. He recently joined the FairMormon group. He has practiced radiology in the Dallas, Texas area since 2011, having obtained his undergraduate education at Brigham Young University (B.S. in 2000), a medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA (M.D. 2005), and post-graduate training in diagnostic radiology and neuroradiology at University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, TX. He served as a full-time missionary in the Germany Hamburg Mission from 1996-1998. His favorite callings include teaching primary and early morning seminary. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife and children. He blogs at BookofMormonNotes.com.