Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:3:7:Early text promises fulfilled later: example 7

Mormon promises, text later complies: Example #7

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

Mormon promises, text later complies: Example #7

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....

In Helaman 2:12-14, Mormon said that he would speak more of Gadianton and his secret band "hereafter." Indeed he did. The problems caused by the robbers and much about their characteristics were detailed in Helaman 6:; 3 Nephi 1:27-29; 2:11-18; 3:1-4; 3:29; and beyond in 4 Nephi 1: and Mormon 1:. The editorial comments in Helaman 2:12-14 are particularly interesting, for they show how Mormon thought and worked in carrying out his task of preparing the Nephite record.

In 2:4 we read of the "secret work of murder and of robbery." If these acts were secret, how is it that the record told so much about them? That there were murderers was of course obvious to the people of the time, but they could have known nothing about any plan or society that was indeed secret. Only later, in the period reported in Helaman 6:, was the Gadianton band discovered and some of them were arrested. Perhaps their confessions revealed the secret. We can see that Mormon, the historian writing years later, would have been aware of those later events when he edited what we see as Helaman 2:, so he could refer to "secret work."

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.