Part 11: 3 Nephi 19 – 4 Nephi
The introduction to this series on internal consistency in the Book of Mormon is found in part 1 here.
This part covers the rest of 3 Nephi plus 4 Nephi. It also includes references to Mormon. In the description of the Savior’s visit to the Americas, there are several particularly interesting and unique examples of internal consistency in the text, as we will discuss below.
87. 3 Nephi 19:4 and 3 Nephi 7:19 — Nephi raising his brother from the dead
We learn a detail about Nephi in 3 Nephi 19:4
And it came to pass that on the morrow, when the multitude was gathered together, behold, Nephi and his brother whom he had raised from the dead, whose name was Timothy
Except for the name, this detail has been mentioned once before, in 3 Nephi 7:19.
And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people.
Both times, they are mentioned in passing and not elaborated any further, so they easily go unnoticed. Yet, since it is mentioned twice, this is another example of internal consistency that does not draw any attention to itself.
88. 3 Nephi 20:11 and 3 Nephi 16:17 — “Ye remember that I spake unto you”
This is another reminder of a previous statement that Jesus made. In 3 Nephi 20:11, he said:
11 Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled…
Jesus refers to something that he said the day before that is found in 3 Nephi 16:17
And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled…
89. 3 Nephi 23:9-11 and Helaman 14:25 — Saints arising from the dead
We have seen many examples of specific prophecies by Samuel the Lamanites and how the description of their fulfillment was equally specific and consistent. There is one more that is particularly interesting.
In Helaman 14:25, Samuel prophesied that
And many graves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many.
Jesus refers to this prophecy in 3 Nephi 23:9-11 when he asks the people why its fulfillment has not been recorded
9 Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?
10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.
11 And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?
90. 3 Nephi 26:17-21 and 4 Nephi 1:1-3 — Mormon’s preview of coming events
Notice the color coded expressions in the final verses of 3 Nephi 26.
17 And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.
19 And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.
20 And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.
21 And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ.
Mormon is starting to describe the time after Christ’s visits to the Nephites, basically what we read more about in 4 Nephi. Compare the green phrases with 4 Nephi 1:1-3.
1 And as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost.
2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
3 And they had all things common among them
The four identical phrases (colored in green) between the two passages cannot be a coincidence. In addition, “were filled with the Holy Ghost” and “did receive the holy Ghost” are pretty close. The end of 3 Nephi 26 is a sort of preview of what is about to happen. In addition to the shared phrases with the beginning of 4 Nephi, it is a preview of something that happens in chapter 27, when Jesus appears to the disciples and says
8 And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.
…and in chapter 28
13 And behold, the heavens were opened, and they were caught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things.
14 And it was forbidden them that they should utter
This preview at the end of 3 Nephi 26 complicates the Book of Mormon text, because it introduces elements that are later repeated and have to be consistent, without really having to do so. It seems that Mormon may have initially written a brief summary of this phase in Nephite history (3 Nephi 26:17-21), but then decided to offer us a longer version with more detail, which caused him to repeat those details found at the end of 3 Nephi 26 in 3 Nephi 27:8, 3 Nephi 28:13-14, and 4 Nephi 1:1-3. This is prime evidence that the author of the text (Mormon) was working from notes.
91. 3 Nephi 27:32 and Helaman 13:10 — “the fourth generation”
In 3 Nephi 27:32, Jesus expresses sorrow for the fourth generation after His visit:
32 But behold, it sorroweth me because of the fourth generation from this generation, for they are led away captive by him even as was the son of perdition;
His prophecy about the fourth generation is consistent with Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy from Helaman 13:10
10 Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord; and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction.
92. 3 Nephi 28:19-22 and 4 Nephi 1:30-33 — Recounting details about the three disciples twice
In 3 Nephi 28, we read about three of the apostles desiring to stay on earth until Christ’s second coming. Mormon, who wrote this in hindsight, got ahead of himself and told what happened to the three Nephites later on.
19 And they were cast into prison by them who did not belong to the church. And the prisons could not hold them, for they were rent in twain.
20 And they were cast down into the earth; but they did smite the earth with the word of God, insomuch that by his power they were delivered out of the depths of the earth; and therefore they could not dig pits sufficient to hold them.
21 And thrice they were cast into a furnace and received no harm.
22 And twice were they cast into a den of wild beasts; and behold they did play with the beasts as a child with a suckling lamb, and received no harm.
When Mormon abridged 4 Nephi and gets to the point in the narrative where these events transpired, he writes of them again.
30 Therefore they did exercise power and authority over the disciples of Jesus who did tarry with them, and they did cast them into prison; but by the power of the word of God, which was in them, the prisons were rent in twain, and they went forth doing mighty miracles among them.
32 And they did cast them into furnaces of fire, and they came forth receiving no harm.
33 And they also cast them into dens of wild beasts, and they did play with the wild beasts even as a child with a lamb; and they did come forth from among them, receiving no harm.
Later in the dictation process, Moroni describes men of faith in Mormon 8:24
And he knoweth their faith, for in his name could they remove mountains; and in his name could they cause the earth to shake; and by the power of his word did they cause prisons to tumble to the earth; yea, even the fiery furnace could not harm them, neither wild beasts nor poisonous serpents, because of the power of his word.
Obviously, Moroni had read the plates and taken note of the events involving the three Nephites.
93. 4 Nephi 1:48, Mormon 1:2 and Mormon 2:2 — Mormon’s age
The Book of Mormon timeline is something that remains consistent all throughout the book. We don’t get the full overview of that from this series by just giving examples with specific references. But they still provide examples of the bigger timeline the Book of Mormon gets right. This is a final example. In 4 Nephi 1:48:
when three hundred and twenty years had passed away, Ammaron, being constrained by the Holy Ghost, did hide up the records which were sacred
Then, in Mormon 1:2:
about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age…)
So Mormon was about 10 years old when 320 years had passed, and in Mormon 2:2
In my sixteenth year… 326 years had passed
End of Part 11
As we finish up part eleven, 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.