Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:6:3:Jacob's style

Jacob's style

Jacob's style

Jacob's style is unique among Book of Mormon authors. He simply sounds different. He used a more personal vocabulary than most and took a more intimate approach to his audience. Consider the contrast with his brother Nephi. Nephi "delights," even "glories" in plainness (2 Nephi 31:3; 33:6). He frankly rebuked and frankly forgave his brothers (see 1 Nephi 7:21). He plunged into difficult tasks—getting the brass plates, facing down starvation, building a ship. Jacob, by contrast, seemed more anxious and withdrawn. He was openly pained that he had to use "much boldness of speech" to his brethren, especially in the presence of their women and children, "whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate before God" (Jacob 2:7).

He prefaced his temple discourse by admitting that he felt "weighed down with much . . . anxiety for the welfare of [their] souls": "It grieveth my soul and causeth me to shrink with shame before the presence of my Maker. . . . Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained . . . to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded. . . . And those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds" (Jacob 2:3, 6, 9).

This is vintage Jacob: intimate, vivid, vulnerable. He used words about feelings—like anxiety, grieve, and tender—more frequently than any other Book of Mormon writer. For example, half the book's references to anxiety occur in Jacob, and over two-thirds of the references to grieve and tender (or their derivatives), as well as shame, are Jacob's. He is the only person to have used delicate, contempt, and lonesome. Likewise, he is the only Book of Mormon author to have employed wound in reference to emotions; and he never used it, as everyone else did, to describe a physical injury. Similarly, Jacob used pierce or its variants frequently (four of the ten instances in the Book of Mormon), and he used it exclusively in a spiritual sense. Such evidence suggests an author who lived close to his emotions and who knew how to express those emotions.[1]


  1. John S. Tanner, "Jacob and His Descendents as Authors," 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 6.