A little known and greatly under-appreciated study of the Book of Mormon by Dead Sea Scrolls International Team member; BYU scholar, and FARMS contributor, Donald W. Parry is found in the compilation by Susan Easton Black, Expressions of Faith, Deseret/FARMS, 1996. I excerpt parts hence the footnotes begin with #5 in [ ]’s
The Book of Mormon "contains 337 proper names and 21 gentilics (or analogous forms) based on proper names." Of the 337 proper names, "188 are unique to the Book of Mormon": for example, Abinadi, Amalickiah, Amulek, Morianton, Mormon, Moronihah, Kishkumen, Helaman, Hagoth, Gadianton, Omni, and Riplakish; 149 of the 337 proper names are common to both the Bible and the Book of Mormon: for example, Samuel, Isaiah, Gideon, Benjamin, Aaron, Noah, Shem, Timothy, and Jacob. Typical of the ancient Semitic languages from which the Nephite record is derived, the Book of Mormon does not use surnames or attach modern titles to its names, such as Mr., Mrs., Dr., Professor, Reverend, Count, or Earl. The names, as transcribed into the English language, do not use the letters q, x, or w, nor do the names begin with either the characters W or F, a fact shared with the names of the Old Testament. Much can be learned from a study of the names, as Paul Hoskisson has shown, for they may provide an indication of the types of languages used by the Nephites, Jaredites, and Lamanites; present a picture of Book of Mormon civilizations and cultures; and provide external clues about when the Book of Mormon record developed in the ancient world.
George Reynolds and Hugh Nibley have conducted a number of studies of the history of Book of Mormon names and have shown that some have Hebrew and Egyptian roots and relationships. B. H. Roberts pointed out that there is a "quite marked distinction between Nephite and Jaredite proper names." With few exceptions, Jaredite names "end in consonants, while very many of the Nephite names end in a vowel."
Robert J. Matthews has created a serviceable who's who of Book of Mormon personalities, wherein he lists several social, political, and religious groupings present in the book. He places personalities into categories and lists the following numbers of individuals within each group: four antichrists, twenty-seven Nephite military leaders, two Jaredite prophets, two priests of Noah listed by name, twelve disciples of Christ, four robbers, seven explorers, one harlot, twelve heads of the Church, two leaders of the Jews, twelve judges, eight Lamanite kings, one lawyer, thirty-one Jaredite kings, two Jaredite military leaders, six Lamanite military leaders, eleven missionaries, two Mulekite leaders, nine Nephite kings, a number of Nephite and Lamanite prophets, twenty Nephite record keepers, three shipbuilders, five spies, and ten villains.
Several other characters or groups listed by Matthews, who are unnamed in the record, include the Amalekite who contended with Aaron, the individual who attempted to slay Ammon, the brother of Jared, the brother of Shiblom, the daughter of Ishmael, the wife of Ishmael, the daughter of Jared, the daughters of the Lamanites, the daughters of Lehi, the five men mentioned in Hel. 9:1-39, the freemen, the Gadianton robbers, the high priests of King Gilead, three Lamanite kings, the Lamanite guards at Gid, the leader of the Zarahemla expedition, the forty-three men of King Limhi who went on the scouting expedition, two mighty Jaredite men, Morianton's maid servant, two queens of the Lamanites, the wife of Lamoni, the wife of Amalickiah, the second king of the Nephites, the servant of Ammoron, the servant of Helaman, the servants of the king of the Lamanites, the three Nephites, the twenty-four Nephites, and the two thousand sons of Helaman.
The record provides thousands of implicit and explicit facts and items about these individuals, both named and unnamed. Yet these facts are always kept straight. Never is an individual described in one way at one point and in another way later, unless the change is explained. The record never mistakenly assigns facts about one individual to another individual. For example, consider the way the record treats the Nephite character Helaman. Helaman was the oldest son of Alma, was given instructions by his father, and was given the Nephite records, the plates of brass, the twenty-four Jaredite plates, the interpreters, and the Liahona. He received his father's prophecy of the Nephite destruction, was blessed by his father, ordained priests and teachers in the Church, was rejected by the rich and the proud, became a high priest in the Church, preached repentance, maintained peace for a period of four years, baptized and ministered to the people, persuaded the converted Lamanites to keep their oaths, wrote an epistle to Moroni stating the affairs of the people, encouraged the people of Ammon not to break the covenant, joined forces with Antipus against the Lamanites, maintained with Antipus a constant vigil over the movements of the Lamanites, gathered and commanded an army of ten thousand men, led two thousand young men to decoy Lamanites from the city of Antiparah, captured many Lamanite prisoners and sent them to the land of Zarahemla, and corresponded with Ammoron about prisoner exchange.
Helaman also obtained the city of Antiparah from the Lamanites without a fight, captured the city of Cumeni by cutting off the food supply, sent part of the army to conduct Lamanite prisoners to Zarahemla, won a severe battle with the Lamanites, received a report from Gid about the escape of the Lamanite prisoners, praised God for his mercy and deliverance to the Nephites, captured the Lamanite city of Manti without the shedding of blood, obtained a release of many Nephite prisoners, again praised God for protection and deliverance, received six thousand men and provisions because of Moroni's intervention, returned to the land of Zarahemla with Moroni, began a preaching tour to regulate the Church, preached with power and authority, safeguarded the sacred things with which he had been entrusted, and died in 57 B.C. during the thirty-fifth year of the judges. In addition to these explicit, straightforward expressions about the life and activities of Helaman, a careful reader may also be able to glean items that are implied or alluded to in the text regarding the spiritual character of Helaman, his philosophy towards life, religious standing, physical prowess, emotional demeanor, and social standing.
Although Helaman is but one of the hundreds of named and unnamed characters identified in the Book of Mormon, not once does the record attribute to him an exact characteristic, familial tie, habit, personality trait, physical description, genealogical affiliation, vocational skill, political office, religious calling, occupation, spiritual or intellectual aptitude, military affiliation, contemporary historical event, or biographical deed that it explicitly attaches to another Book of Mormon personality to the point that there is a discrepancy or contradiction in the text. For example, in Alma 37:1, Alma anoints his son Helaman to be his successor and entrusts the accumulated plates and the Liahona to him. From that point until the end of Alma 62:1, where Helaman's death is recorded, this fact remains consistent: no one else is mistakenly described as holding the responsibilities Alma had given to Helaman. Further, the record does not confuse implied statements that are attached to Helaman and his world with another individual, nor does it ever accidentally place him in the wrong geographic locale or historical time frame. As I have set up Helaman as an example, so, too, could other personalities of the Book of Mormon be examined by a careful student, and never would that student discover an inconsistency or lack of agreement in the text. In view of this, it may be stated that the Book of Mormon demonstrates an internal consistency and coherence.
Historical Unity of Warfare
The Book of Mormon recalls historical situations, characters, and places that are external to the chronological and geographic setting of the Jaredites, Nephites, and Mulekites. Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Solomon, the building of Solomon's temple, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zedekiah, the exodus from Egypt, and the great tower are mentioned in the book but do not belong to its immediate setting. Genealogical references presented in the record make solid connections between the house of Israel in the Old World and the family of Joseph in the New World. The family of Jared is directly linked with the era of the great tower, and the family of Lehi is shown to belong to the setting of Jerusalem shortly before its destruction by Babylon.
The Book of Mormon also sets forth a host of historical references, characters, and circumstances that so far are found only within its pages. Consider, for example, the treatment of wars and warfare in the work. The book features fifteen major conflicts, including the "Early Tribal Wars," the "Wars of King Laman's Son," the "War of Amlici," the "Destruction of Ammonihah," the "War of the Ammonite Secession," the "Zoramite War," the "First and Second Amalickiahite Wars," the "Rebellion of Paanchi," the "War of Tubaloth," the "War of Moronihah," the "War of Gadianton and Kishkumen," the "War of Giddianhi and Zemnarihah," the "Rebellion of Jacob," and the three phases of the "Final Nephite Wars." The Book of Mormon writers and editors dedicated anywhere from a few verses (Rebellion of Paanchi, Hel. 1:1-13), to twelve chapters (Second Amalickiahite War, Alma 51-62), to each of the major conflicts.
Students of the Book of Mormon can attach to many of the fifteen major wars approximate dates or seasons, geographical locales, underlying causes, battle tactics, military maneuvers, and final outcomes. Further, individual campaigns and engagements existed within each major war. Within the framework of the fifteen major wars mentioned above, John L. Sorenson has identified more than one hundred distinct conflicts in the record. His identification includes the Lamanite, Nephite, and Zeniffite initiatives; Nephite versus Nephite conflicts; and confrontations between the Lamanites and the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Further, we find in the book references to attacks and counterattacks; army pursuing or fleeing from army; strategies and political maneuvers; violent contentions; defeats and victories; mobilization of groups; preparations for war; marching armies; captives and prisoners of war; deployment, redeployment, and the positioning of troops; military spies; dissident forces; fortifications of cities and sites; the capture, loss, and recapture of cities; descriptions of combat, guerrilla movement, the flanking of troops, and other tactics; the raising of armies and recruitment of soldiers; strategic offenses and defenses; descriptions of military leaders and dissenters; the reinforcement of troops; armies against organized robbers; slaughter; bloodshed; and the extermination of entire peoples. In addition, the record identifies many of the weapons and armor used by different warriors at various times, including the sword, cimeter, bow and arrow, breastplate, shield, head-plate, arm-shield, club, sling, and "all manner of weapons of war" (Alma 2:12).
Yet with all these details, the presentation of wars and warfare in the Book of Mormon contains a textually consistent account that both recalls historical reality and lacks contradictory elements. From the first battle mentioned in 2 Ne. 5:34 to the final Nephite battle at Cumorah (Mormon 6:5-15), all of the wars and battles are interwoven into the Book of Mormon text to create a harmonious narrative. The connection between warfare and textual consistency in the Book of Mormon serves as an example of the book's integrity and correctness. Similar arguments could be made about all other historical references in the Book of Mormon.
Unity of Focus on Christ
Years ago, Susan Easton Black tabulated all of the occurrences of the names and titles of Jesus in the Book of Mormon. Though Black's goals were different from those of this article, the results of her findings are quite instructive. According to Black, 101 names or titles of Christ are presented in the Book of Mormon. These include the names/titles Lord God Omnipotent, Redeemer of Israel, Shepherd, and Son of the Living God, each of which is found once in the work. The names/titles Stone, True Messiah, Mighty One of Jacob, and Great Creator are each found twice; the names/titles Holy One of Israel, Lamb of God, Lord Jesus Christ, Redeemer, and Messiah each appear 10 or more times; and the names/titles Christ, God, Jesus, Lord, and Lord God are each found at least 100 times in the book. In all, the 101 names/titles of Christ are collectively presented 3,925 times in 6,607 Book of Mormon verses. Black's tabulation of the names and titles shows that on average, one name or title of Christ appears once every 1.7 verses.
The names and titles are used by the various Book of Mormon prophets to teach of Jesus' prebirth affiliations with the world, his earthly ministry, his atoning sacrifice (including his sufferings in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the garden tomb), his workings among American civilizations, his ministry to other peoples, his future mission with the latter-day church, his judgments upon the world, and his Second Coming to the inhabitants of the earth. By way of example, a number of names/titles of Jesus deal especially with the Atonement. These include Christ, Christ Jesus, Christ the Son, Creator, Eternal Father, Everlasting Father, Father of Heaven, Holy Messiah, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Lamb, Lamb of God, Lord Jesus Christ, Mediator, Messiah, Only Begotten of the Father, Only Begotten Son, Redeemer, Redeemer of Israel, Savior, Savior of the World, Shepherd, and True Redeemer. Note also that Jesus serves in the capacity of an advocate, a fact that is explicitly mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 29:5; D&C 32:3; D&C 45:3; D&C 62:1). Several statements imply this idea: the Holy Messiah "shall make intercession for all . . . men" (2 Ne. 2:9), "the Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people" (2 Ne. 8:22), "the Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people" (2 Ne. 13:13), God "will plead your cause" (Jacob 3:1), and Christ "advocateth the cause of the children of men" (Moro. 7:28).
The Book of Mormon contains not only a great variety of names and titles for Jesus, but also many thousands of personal pronouns that refer to him. Book of Mormon pronouns that have reference to Christ include I, me, you, he, him; the possessive (adjective) pronouns my, your, and his; and the relative pronoun who. Note the three appearances of the third-person pronoun in Mosiah 15:12, all of which refer to Jesus. I have italicized the pronouns for emphasis: "For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?" Note also the first-person pronouns found in 3 Ne. 11:11, again italicized: "And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning." The pronouns that have reference to God are interspersed throughout the Book of Mormon text, mingled with his 101 names and titles.
Beyond the use of deific names, titles, and pronouns in the Nephite record, witnesses of Jesus appear in the form of symbols, presented through such figures of speech as metaphor, simile, synecdoche, metonymy, implication, and personification. Metaphors of Christ, for example, are common in the book and include Moses' brazen serpent (1 Ne. 17:41; Hel. 8:14-15), "keeper of the gate" (2 Ne. 9:41), "Lamb of God" (1 Ne. 10:10), "the light and the life of the world" (3 Ne. 9:18), "Son of Righteousness" (3 Ne. 25:2), foundation stone ("Jacob 4:15-16), "the truth of the world" (Ether 4:12), and "rock" and "true vine" (1 Ne. 15:15).
First and foremost, the goal of the Book of Mormon is religious, with an emphasis and encouragement for individuals to come unto Christ (Jacob 1:7; Omni 1:26; Moro. 10:30, Moro. 10:32). Black's study on the frequent occurrence of the names of Christ in the work reveals that the book has a definite focus on Christ. Obviously, if one of his names or titles appears on average once every 1.7 verses (and such a tabulation does not include pronominal references to Christ), then the entire Book of Mormon is built around him, including its sociological, political, economical, theological, and historical parts. Yet if serious readers study the book contextually, they will discover that each occurrence of a deific name or title, personal pronoun, or symbolic reference shows an evenness, integrity, and lack of contradiction with all other parts of the book.
Not once does the book confuse a work or teaching of Jesus that belongs to another personality; never in all the references to Jesus, both explicit and implicit, does the work attach to a human either a power or a quality that belongs to God alone, nor does it attach a worldly, profane, or humanistic quality to the resurrected Jesus. Prophetic descriptions of Jesus Christ do not portray any member of the Godhead as possessing a human frailty, a sinful or fallen nature, an imperfection, or a corruption. Neither is God confused with other supernatural beings, either angels or evil spirits. Rather, the Book of Mormon clearly defines the roles of all three members of the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Every single reference to God, whether it be pronoun, name, title, or symbolic reference, is consistent and harmonious with every other reference. If confusion or contradiction appears to exist in the Book of Mormon, it is because of the limitations of the finite reader, who is attempting to understand things pertaining to the infinite.
As noted, by far the most significant personality identified in the book is Jesus Christ, and the weightiest topics pertain to his character, divine mission, and eternal goals. References to Christ serve as an adhesive, binding every verse of the work into a single, integral unit. All other parts of the book serve as appendages to this focus. The topic of Jesus and his mission fits squarely with the stated purpose of the book as listed on the title page and elsewhere in the book. The purpose of the record is, in part, "to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations" (title page).
From the opening phrase, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents," to the concluding expression, "the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen," the Book of Mormon is textually consistent, internally concordant, and written with integrity. If the reader follows the proper prescriptions, the Holy Ghost will bear witness of the book's truthfulness, and the reader will draw closer to God through reading it and applying its principles.
fn 5. Paul Y. Hoskisson, "Book of Mormon Names," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 1:186. The names are listed in an appendix of Book of Mormon Critical Text: A Tool for Scholarly Reference, ed. Robert F. Smith (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1987), 3:1218-24; John S. Turnbull, A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: n.p., 1946); Alvin Knisley, Dictionary of All Proper Names in the Book of Mormon (Independence, Missouri: Ensign Publishing House, 1909); Robert J. Matthews, Who's Who in the Book of Mormon? (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976); and George Reynolds, Dictionary of the Book of Mormon; Comprising Its Biographical, Geographical, and Other Proper Names; Together with Appendices by Janne M. Sjodahl (Salt Lake City: Joseph Hyrum Parry, 1891).
fn 6. A fact pointed out by Melvin R. Brooks, "Book of Mormon," in LDS Reference Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960), 52-54. Brooks presents a list of twenty-eight peculiarities of the Book of Mormon. His list is adapted from Thomas W. Brookbank, "Pitfalls Avoided by the Translator of the Book of Mormon," Millennial Star 71 (1909): 273-79, 289-93. B. H. Roberts also pointed out that the Jaredites and Nephites attached only a single name to each person. This is similar to the ancient Hebrew custom of attaching one name only to an individual, but unlike the custom of the present era of giving two or more names to a person. See B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1951), 3:134.
fn 7. Brookbank, "Pitfalls," 292. The book does contain such ancient titles as priest, king, and judge.
fn 8. Arthur G. Pledger, "The W and I," Ensign, September 1976, 24-25.
fn 9. Ibid.
fn10. Paul Y. Hoskisson, "An Introduction to the Relevance of and a Methodology for a Study of the Proper Names of the Book of Mormon," in By Study and Also By Faith, 2:126-35. Hoskisson's methodology is helpful and presents a number of cautions to those who study proper names of the Book of Mormon.
fn11. George Reynolds, "Nephite Proper Names," Juvenile Instructor, September 15, 1880, 207-8.
fn12. Hugh W. Nibley, "Book of Mormon as a Mirror of the East," Improvement Era, April 1948, 202-4, 249-51. Reprinted, without illustrations, in Improvement Era, November 1970, 115-20, 122-25. See also Nibley, "The Lachish Letters: Documents from Lehi's Day," Ensign, December 1981, 48-54.
fn13. B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1951), 3:134.
fn14. Ibid., 3:135.
fn15. Matthews, Who's Who, 73-75.
fn16. Ibid., 58-66.
fn17. Ibid., 18-19.
fn18. As identified and named by John W. Welch, "Why Study Warfare in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 3-24.
fn19. John L. Sorenson, appendix to "Seasonality of Warfare in the Book of Mormon and in Mesoamerica," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, 445-77.
fn20. Susan Easton Black, Finding Christ through the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987); Susan Ward Easton [Black], "Names of Christ in the Book of Mormon," Ensign, July 1978, 60-61.
fn21. Black, Finding Christ, 5.