Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:3:5:Early text promises fulfilled later: example 5

Mormon promises, text later complies: Example #5

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Complexity/Early text promises fulfilled later

Mormon promises, text later complies: Example #5

An author may promise in the course of writing to return to a subject later to supply further details. Actually keeping such a promise can prove difficult. Even with modern writing aids, memory can betray a person into failing to tuck in the corners of plot or information. Mormon, the editor of much of the Book of Mormon as we have it, made these types of promises at least seven times. In each case, he or his son Moroni followed through perfectly....

3 Nephi 18:36-37 contains Mormon's statement that Jesus had given his twelve disciples "power to give the Holy Ghost." He added, "I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true." In the next chapter, verse thirteen, he described how the Holy Ghost fell on the twelve after their baptism. Then at 4 Nephi 1:1, he wrote that those baptized by the twelve "did also receive the Holy Ghost." Further consistency was shown in Moroni's later quotation of Christ's words to the twelve, which Mormon had left out in 3 Nephi 18: where they logically might have been given: "Ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost" (Moroni 2:2). He then added, "On as many as they laid their hands, fell the Holy Ghost" (v. 2:3). The reporting of the matter involved two prophets and four distinct passages of scripture, but eventually nothing was left out of the story....

If following through on editorial promises to return to a subject is difficult in writing, it is even harder done in haste with no written record to serve as a reminder of the promises made. In 1829 Joseph Smith dictated to Oliver Cowdery most of the scripture attributed to Mormon within the period of a few weeks, and without proofreading or revising. Under these circumstances, if Joseph were the original author, then leaving no gaps in the promised materials would have been a remarkable achievement. This makes it much more likely that Joseph was translating rather than creating, and that the editorial consistency is Mormon's work.[1]


  1. John A. Tvedtnes, "Mormon's Editorial Promises," 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 3.