Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:2:3:Mormon's priorities

Hardy: "Mormon tended to interpret political and historical events in spiritual terms"

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Complexity/Mormon as editor

Hardy: "Mormon tended to interpret political and historical events in spiritual terms"

Grant Hardy:

In looking at editing in the Book of Mormon, we will be primarily concerned with trying to determine the biases and purposes behind Mormon's editorial choices. I believe that two major tendencies are evident: he interpreted political events in spiritual terms, and he highlighted the distinction between the obedient and the disobedient. We see both of these in Mosiah 25:.

After complex plot twists in which one group after another was lost in the wilderness, the peoples of Alma, Limhi, and Mosiah were finally all reunited in Zarahemla. Mormon reported: "Alma did speak unto them, when they were assembled together in large bodies, and he went from one body to another, preaching unto the people repentance and faith on the Lord. And he did exhort the people of Limhi and his brethren, all those that had been delivered out of bondage, that they should remember that it was the Lord that did deliver them" (Mosiah 25:15-16).

Two assumptions about this passage seem reasonable: Limhi and his brethren made up one of these large bodies of people, and Mormon had access to records of Alma's words to each of these groups. Mormon mentioned general preachings of repentance and faith, but the only specific instruction he recounted was the exhortation to Limhi's people to remember that the Lord was responsible for their deliverance. Why is this detail so important that it alone received attention when so much else was left out?

This editorial choice is especially puzzling when we recall that Limhi's people had freed themselves by getting their Lamanite guards drunk (see Mosiah 22). We even know the name of the man who concocted the scheme—Gideon. We also remember the conference in which Ammon and Limhi "began to consult with the people how they should deliver themselves out of bondage" (22:1). Their liberation seemed to be the result of sheer cunning—chapter twenty-two does not mention God once. And yet in chapter twenty-five, Mormon's editing stressed that, despite appearances, God delivered Limhi's people just as much as he did Alma's people (who had made a miraculous escape, recorded in Mosiah 24:16-25).

Of course this is precisely the point behind Mormon's editing—no matter what we may think about our own resourcefulness, decisiveness, and timing, God is still in charge. Mormon tended to interpret political and historical events in spiritual terms, and this inclination is evident in his editing as well as in his direct "thus we see" comments.[1]


  1. Grant R. Hardy, "Mormon as Editor," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 2.