Words of Mormon, verse by verse, with “responses” added from various commentaries

I want to address some commentaries, but before I do I thought I’d work through Words of Mormon verse by verse.

1 AND now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites.

-Mormon is writing these words after he has written his abridgment: he is about to deliver up his record to Moroni.

2 And it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ *that I deliver these records into the hands of my son; and it supposeth me that he will witness the entire destruction of my people. But may God grant that he may survive them, that he may write somewhat concerning them, and somewhat concerning Christ, that perhaps some day it may profit them.

-Mormon wants to explain when it is that he is writing.

-“These records” – perhaps referring to both his own record he has been making, and the small plates?

-Mormon, though witnessing the people’s destruction, still assumes his record, and possibly Moroni’s, will benefit their descendants.

3 And now, I speak somewhat concerning that which I have written; for after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi.

-“that which I have written” – he has written so little in this “Words of Mormon” book that I must assume he means his abridgment, which he referred to in verse 1.

-He wrote the abridgment from the “plates of Nephi.” He got to King Benjamin, then searched and found “these plates.” A moment ago he used the words “these records.” When he used that, he had just talked about his own record. I assume that means his record + more (ie, the small plates?). This time he says, “these plates.” This can’t mean the large plates, nor his abridgment, so I am left to believe he is talking about the small plates.

-why use the word “these”? Two options present themselves to me: 1, he is writing on them, so as we would have been reading the small plates it would be an obvious self-conscious reference to the small plates or 2, he says “these” because he is referring to what Amaleki wrote.

-“these” – Either he is writing on the small plates, or he is writing on his record but after the small plates were introduced? No where does he say he copied the small plates into his record. He has already finished his abridgment, so the only option would be if he added the small plates after his abridgment and then added some pages with these words. Otherwise, I would have to assume that he is writing on the small plates themselves. We’ll see what the rest of the book opens up to us.

-Mormon describes the small plates thus: “small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi.” A few things to note: 1, Nephi is not considered one of “the prophets;” perhaps because he was a king and a prophet; 2, the small plates end with “this king Benjamin.” “This” seems to refer to Amaleki’s narrative, but it could also be that king Benjamin himself wrote on the small plates.

-However, if Mormon is writing right on the small plates, then we can know that Amaleki was the last to write before Mormon.

4 And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ; and my fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled; yea, and I also know that as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass—

-The small plates stand out to Mormon because of the prophecies of Christ. He and his fathers know they have come to pass.

5 Wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi; and I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people.

-“Wherefore” – “in light of what’s been said” is the idea I get from wherefore. “Because the small plates talk of these prophecies, and because I know they have been fulfilled, I chose to finish my record upon them.”

-“finish my record” – “my record” could refer to the abridgment, but what sense does this make – I chose to finish my record upon them? Again, if he copied the entirety of the small plates into his own abridgment after he had abridged everything through his own lifetime, then I could see him saying he’s using the small plates as the ending of his record. But I still don’t see anywhere where he says he copied them onto his abridgment. Hence, I don’t think “my record” can refer to the abridgment

-“which remainder of my record” – he’s already finished his abridgment, so what “remainder” are we referring to?

-“take from the plates of Nephi” – I can only assume he means the large plates! 🙂 Again, in verse one he told us he had already finished his abridgment and is about to deliver it to Moroni. So while yes, he did take that abridgment from the plates of Nephi, I don’t think he can be talking about his abridgment here.

-Taken together, these points suggest this reading: Mormon is referring to the words he is writing right on the small plates. He is calling his words a “record.” He sees these words as an addition to the small plates similar to the writings of Amaleki or Omni. He will take the “remainder” of his record – or the remainder of his words here in the Words of Mormon – from the large plates, just as he had done in his abridgment.

6 But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren.

-now “these plates” seem separate from “remainder of my record.” Mormon, why are you being so confusing? 🙂

-are there just two “remainders” he is talking about?

-Option 1: two remainders. The “but behold” is in reference to his inability to write as much as he’d like to in Words of Mormon. Since he can’t write much here – ie, the “remainder” of his Words of Mormon record will be short – then he directs us to his abridgment which is much longer. The use of the word “put” – where he is putting these plates with the remainder of his record, sounds like there are two physical, separate records being talked about here.

-Option 2: one remainder. He will take the prophecies already written in the small plates and put them with the remainder of his record – and the only time he’s used “remainder” in this book is to talk about his small-plates record. Would that have to mean he is using the word “put” loosely here? He is putting the small plates and his Words of Mormon record together? I don’t think we can read “these plates” as talking about the plates of Nephi, though they were just mentioned, since he talks about the “prophesyings and revelations” that are so “choice” to him.

-Again, Mormon, please be more clear next time. 🙂 🙂 🙂

-I am going to assume that he means he will finish out his record on the small plates and then put them with his abridgment. This reading further suggests that he did not copy the small plates into his abridgment but rather put them with his abridgment.

7 And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.

-We of course jump all over this to talk about the loss of the 116 pages. But look at what Mormon thinks the wise purpose may be:

8 And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people.

-I think Mormon is looking at this situation, where the Spirit is telling him to include the small plates with his record, and hoping this means that someday his people will have a plain record filled with revelations. It is humbling to think that this may be the actual wise purpose, whereas we are just excited that God outsmarted Satan.

9 And now I, Mormon, *proceed to finish out my record, which I take from the plates of Nephi; and I make it according to the knowledge and the understanding which God has given me.

-Okay, now he is “proceeding,” so we’d better decide what he is actually doing here. 🙂 Either he is going back to his abridgment (thumbs down) or he is proceeding to make an account on the small plates (ding ding ding!) 🙂 I myself am going to “proceed” with this latter understanding.

10 Wherefore, it came to pass that after Amaleki had delivered up these plates into the hands of king Benjamin, he took them and put them with the other plates, which contained records which had been handed down by the kings, from generation to generation until the days of king Benjamin.

-Another case of taking and putting them with other plates…

11 And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written.

-It may be suggested that the reason that Mormon searches for the plates when he does is that he reads that Amaleki gave them to king Benjamin, realizes that he has the other things king Benjamin had, and realizes he may very well have the small plates as well! (He certainly read about them in the large plates -see D&C 10, as well as common sense!- but it was only here that he thinks to go and look for them.)

12 And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.

-He picks up right where Amaleki left off.

-“this” is natural since he was just talking about Amaleki giving him the plates.

13 And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against them; and he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban.

-Contentions among people and from the outside, good summary…

14 And in the strength of the Lord they did contend against their enemies, until they had slain many thousands of the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did contend against the Lamanites until they had driven them out of all the lands of their inheritance.

-Again, good summary…

15 And it came to pass that after there had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes;

-No description of what these people may have said, just a summary that it happened…

16 And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes; and after there having been much contention and many dissensions away unto the Lamanites, behold, it came to pass that king Benjamin, with the assistance of the holy prophets who were among his people—

-There were other holy prophets! A detail I just love. And note these did not get the prophetic record, Benjamin did. Interesting side note.

17 For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—

-Yet, no words of what they said. Either he is introducing or just summarizing.

18 Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

-A nice end to the king Benjamin story.

-But not a nice end to your own account added onto a small plates record passed down from prophet to prophet. Wouldn’t it seem like he would end with a prayer or petition? Or a testimony? And what of the “remainder” – was this it? Why bother introducing it at such length?

D&C 10:41: Therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained;

-Note that Joseph is told to translate “till” he comes to Benjamin. Did the small plates go any further? It seems we established that Amaleki was the last to write.

-That which you have retained – they had some of the translation that was not lost.

-My reading is that the small plates did go further- if you count Words of Mormon as part of the small plates. Mormon wrote a small quick record summarizing the prophecies and fulfillments of them from king Benjamin down to his own day. Joseph stops when Mormon is done summarizing king Benjamin.

-He had retained Mosiah 1, so it would have been odd for him to translate more of the Words of Mormon. It would have become redundant.


21 responses to “Words of Mormon, verse by verse, with “responses” added from various commentaries

  • Karen

    Timing clues:
    v.1- about to deliver to Moroni the abridgment he has been making
    v.3- found small plates after abridging through Benjamin
    v.5- chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take
    v.6- I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record,
    v.9- I, Mormon, proceed to finish out my record, which I take from the plates of Nephi;

  • Karen

    Addtional note:

    Mosiah 1 seems to be where the “retained” portion pick up. This seems apparent from marking on the Printer’s manuscript. There, the chapter number has been changed from III to I.

    There also seems to be no other possibility for what else could have begun the “retained” portion. We know Mosiah was on the abridgment.

  • Karen

    Since I don’t anticipate anyone real actually responding to my post, I’ll add and work through some notes from commentaries, sort of as if these people were responding 🙂 Then I can respond to them to see how it might change my argument.

    Reading proposed by Brant Gardner in Second Witness:
    WofM 1:1-2
    1.Mormon “inserted” the small plates into his abridgment
    2.Mormon should have introduced himself more
    3.Mormon does introduce himself with who he is and when he is writing
    4.He is adding these words to the small plates
    5.This is a transition to his abridgment
    WofM 1:3
    6.Mormon does not introduce himself or explain his abridgment more because we’ve already read an explanation on the lost 116 pages
    7.Words of Mormon likely written after 3 Nephi
    8.This is definitely a “textual transition” (pg72)
    9.Mormon’s abridgment came from a variety of plates, and he was simply looking for the next chronological set when he stumbled on the small plates. They were a complete surprise to him.
    10.Mormon may not have had much interest in the small plates material, but we can assume they were interesting to him for historical reasons.
    11.”plates of Nephi” always means large plates. “these plates” always means small plates (here in
    Words of Mormon – never a discussion elsewhere in Mormon’s writings)
    12.Mormon wrote a longer account of what he saw in his days on the “large plates” themselves. Then he abridged that record on “these plates.” He is similar to Nephi.
    13.Mormon made more plates to keep writing, since the small plates were full.
    WofM 1:4
    14.Mormon has a “personal attachment” to the small plates because of their prophecies (pg 76)
    WofM 1:5
    15.verb tenses complicate things
    16.the word “finishing” is what doesn’t make sense (p76) if he means the entire Mosiah-Mormon stretch
    17.Daniel H. Ludlow gives a good summary of the problem in his A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon pg 171-2
    18.In response to Ludlow, Gardner says (p77):
    -Record is “obviously” the abridgment
    -To say this record is written right on the small plates is a “very literal” though “interesting” reading of the word upon
    finishing upon means that including the small plates was finishing his abridgment before giving the plates to Moroni
    -“The suggestion that Mormon must still write the history covering from Mosiah to 4 Nephi contradicts the intent of verse 1 and thus does not appear to be a reasonable interpretation.”
    WofM 1:6
    19.Mormon found the small plates, read them, and waited to do anything with them. He finished his abridgment through 4 Nephi, and then the Lord reminded Mormon about the small plates (pg 77)
    20.Mormon then opens up the plates to add the small plates where they would go in chronological order. Then he adds Words of Mormon to transition to Mosiah 1.
    21.Although it appears that Joseph translated the small plates last, this does not mean they were physically last in the collection.
    WofM 1:7
    22.In D&C 10:38-45, the Lord talks about this wise purpose.The small plates, though not called that here, are said in the large-plate abridgment to have the more particular account. This was perhaps done in a transition that Mormon added right before the small plates insertion.
    WofM 1:8-9
    23.Mormon will now return to finish his “already-abridged text” (pg 79)
    WofM 1:10
    24.Quinn Brewster has another reading of WofM, where Mosiah-Mormon was written after WofM
    WofM 1:12
    25.Here Mormon tells us there were no more contentions, which clearly must link up with some discussion of contentions existing. Likely he had written in the 116 pages about these contentions. [I think Gardner is suggesting that since Mormon wrote his abridgment before he inserted the small plates, the end of the 116 pages would link right up with Mosiah 1:1, even though it was physically separated from Mosiah 1:1 by the small plates.]
    Mosiah 1
    26.Printer’s manuscript shows III crossed out to I. Likely chapters 1 and 2 were on 116 pages. Missing introductory synopsis.

    These notes come from Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6 vol. (SLC: Kofford, 2008), 3: 67-98.

  • Karen

    So let’s see if I can summarize what I think your argument is, Bro. Gardner.

    You suggest that Mormon abridges the book of Lehi down to king Benjamin. Then he finds the small plates. He puts them aside and finishes his record through 4 Nephi. Then he opens up the plates (like a three-ring binder?) and adds the small plates right before Benjamin is discussed. Then he writes a small introduction and concluding transition before and after the small plates so it meshes with his record. Then he goes back to the end of the abridgment and finishes his own book, The Book of Mormon, and hands it on to Moroni (who finishes that book).

    I do have a few questions about your reading. Why would Mormon put the small plates in the middle of a book? If we believe that Mosiah 1 is not really Mosiah 1 but that there was an introductory synopsis and other material lost on the 116 pages, then it seems to me you are suggesting that the small plates were inserted after these 2 chapters. Why do you see Mormon putting the plates here? That would be a long distraction from his abridgment.

    I don’t see where you mention the “retained portion” (D&C 10) except in a quotation from Skousen that you don’t comment on (end of page 98). (Skousen has an odd reading that I need to investigate: that Joseph had more of the book of Mosiah that was purposefully left out.) What do you make of this phrase from D&C 10?

    If the retained portion indeed starts with our Mosiah 1, or what seems to be originally Mosiah 3, then could the small plates have been inserted prior to Mosiah 3? Would Joseph have skipped over the small plates and kept going with Mosiah? This seems like an odd undoing of an odd Mormon move, if this is what you are suggesting.

    The biggest question I have is what you would say about the direction to Joseph to translate the small plates until he comes to the reign of king Benjamin. What do you think this means in terms of your reading?

  • Karen

    My next “comment” will be notes from Sidney B. Sperry’s Book of Mormon Compedium

    1. In v.1-2 – Mormon has made his abridgment through Mormon 7.
    2. In v.3 – Mormon is trying to make clear why his is inserting the small plates along with his other record. He wants to “show the relation which the Small Plates bear to what follows in the Nephite record” (pg 283)
    3. We need to be careful with verse 5.
    -“These things” means small plates.
    -Ricks believe “upon” meant that Mormon wrote in a little space left after Amaleki, right on small plates themselves. “The word ‘upon’ seems rather definite” (pg 283).
    -“remainder…from plates of Nephi” at first not clear. But “antecedent of ‘remainder’ is ‘record’ in the preceding clause. That is to say, Mormon has reference to his remaining words (vss. 12-18 involving Benjamin and hence the Large Plates of Nephi) in the Words of Mormon and not to the work of abridging the books that follow, such as Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, etc., as is commonly supposed. To my mind, all of this great work of abridgment has been completed; it is water under the bridge, so to speak. Nor do the opening words of verse 9, ‘and now I Mormon, proceed to finish out my record, which I take from the plates of Nephi…’ militate against this view. Here, as above, Mormon has reference to finishing out his few remaining words which have to do with the life of King Benjamin (vss.12-18), obviously an abridgment the source of which would be the Large Plates” (page 283)
    4. There are three reasons for Mormon to give us these verses (12-18) on the earlier part of King Benjamin’s life. 1, it seems Mormon knew we would not have access to the account of King Benjamin from the Book of Lehi, lost in the 116 pages. 2, he knew how little was said about King Benjamin in the Book of Omni. And 3, he knew his Mosiah record only talked about King Benjamin’s later life. “Therefore he must have felt it necessary to make a smoother and more logical transition between the Book of Omni and the Book of Mosiah by writing down a brief abridgment of Benjamin’s life that would span the intervening years” (284).

    [These notes were taken from: Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compedium (SLC:Bookcraft, 1968), 281-5.]

  • Karen

    Sperry! I loved your comments. You read the details much the same as I do. The main difference of course is that I see the small plates as a more separate record, without need of a “transition.” What appears to be a transition is, in my reading, just the beginning of a separate small-plates summary of the Nephite history, focused mainly on prophecies of Christ and their fulfillments.

  • Karen

    Reynolds and Sjodahl add:

    “King Benjamin thus became the first to compile the full history of the people upon one set of plates.”

    From George Reynolds and Janne M Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 7 vol (SLC: DB, 1956), 7:17-30.

  • Karen

    Interesting! Reynolds and Sjodahl, you seem to be saying that Benjamin himself added in the small plates! -That is, that he either physically bound them to the large plates when he received them, or that he transcribed them in full in the large plates. That is a reading I haven’t seen before. Then, I assume you would say, that when Mormon says he decides to put them “with” his record, he is saying he will transcribe them in full on his abridgment.

    (This goes along in part with most readings I’m finding, where Words of Mormon is a necessary transition because the small plates run right into the rest of the abridgment.) Interesting, though, to attribute this combination first to Benjamin!

  • Karen

    Monte S. Nyman’s reading, in his commentary:

    1. Words of Mormon is a way to “bridge the gap” between the small plates & the abridgment (p 169)
    2. contradiction: the plates are full, yet Mormon says he will finish his record upon them
    3. finish perhaps means the insertion of the small plates at the end of his abridgment.
    4. “This is the most probable place for the smaller plates, not inserted Mormon’s abridgment of the book of Lehi (116 lost pages) and the ‘remainder of my record,’ that which he abridged ‘from the plates of Nephi, and I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people’ (v.5). The plates being placed at the end of his record is supported by Mormon’s next statement: ‘I shall take these plates,…and put them with the remainder of my record’ (v.6).” (pg 170-1)
    5. Historical evidence also supports this placement. Joseph, when talking about the three witnesses in the History of the Church, sites a verse from Ether and one from the beginning of 2 Nephi. There is a later verse in 2 Nephi that is much more explicit. This seems to suggest that they had not translated all of 2 Nephi, though they had translated the book of Ether. (Hence, this suggests that the small plates were physically after the abridgment.)
    6. When Mormon uses the phrase these plates, it “strongly suggests” (pg 173) that he either wrote Words of Mormon on a bit of leftover space that Amaleki had left, or that he added a “plate or two” to the small plates to write Words of Mormon.

    These notes were taken from:
    Monte S. Nyman, These Records are True (Orem: Granite Pub, 2004), 168-175.

  • Karen

    Questions I have for Bro. Nyman:

    1. if the small plates are inserted at the end of the abridgment, why does he need to “bridge the gap,” as you put it, between the small plates and the abridgment?
    2. I agree too that when Mormon talks of “these plates” it likely means he is physically writing on the small plates. This seems to be the most straightforward reading of the text.
    3. I also tend to agree that Mormon adds these at the end of his record. This seems the case when he says he is about to deliver them to Moroni.
    Thanks for your contribution!

  • Karen

    From a commentary by Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert Millet:

    1. transition between small plates and abridgment
    2. these plates refers to the small plates
    3. remainder means Mormon’s words in Words of Mormon about Amaleki to the end of Benjamin’s reign. This brief history will be taken from the large plates.
    4. It is “generally believed” (122) that Joseph finished translating the abridgment before he translated the small plates.
    5. proceed to finish out my record has the same referent as remainder did in verse 5.

    These notes were taken from:
    Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vol (SLC: Bookcraft, 1987-?), 2:117-25.

  • Karen

    I also prefer the reading that “remainder” means the rest of the writing in the Words of Mormon. As soon as we start reading it as his large abridgment, the details in Words of Mormon start to fall apart and we have to get creative. I think this is the more straightforward reading of this word.

  • Karen

    Comments from Daniel H. Ludlow’s book:

    1.The reason that Mormon writes the Words of Mormon in such a way that it transitions is that he knew there was a “wise purpose” and there would need to be a transitional book:
    “It was made known to Mormon ‘by the workings of the Spirit of the Lord’ that the small plates of Nephi (which ended when Benjamin was a relatively young man) might be used to replace his abridgment of the book of Lehi (which ended when Benjamin was an old man about ready to die). So that a gap would would not occur in the history of the Nephites, Mormon included the major events of the lifetime of King Benjamin in The Words of Mormon, thus connecting the account on the small plates of Nephi with Mormon’s abridgment of the book of Mosiah.” (pg 171)
    2. Verse 5 has been the cause of several questions and several interpretations. Here is the summary of what “most scholars” believe:
    -“his record” means the Words of Mormon
    -“these things” means small plates
    full doesn’t mean Mormon couldn’t add a few words
    -some scholars think “remainder” means Words of Mormon; others think it means whatever he had left to abridge on his abridgment. “Unfortunately, the pronoun reference in verse 5 does not make it possible to determine Mormon’s meaning exactly” (pg 172).

    These notes were taken from:
    Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon (SLC: DB, 1976), 170-2.

  • Karen

    Interesting reading on page 171. Most people, I think, would say that when Mormon says he does not know “all things,” he is saying that he doesn’t know why he was doing this, only that it was “wise.” However, as I reread verse 7, I think the verse is still open to your reading. Fascinating!

    I think I also see why so many people are set on showing Words of Mormon as a transition. If we see it as a transition, then it proves D&C 10. It is more of a proof or confirmation than textual analysis. Even though most commentaries don’t seem to go quite as far as you do on page 171 of your commentary, it opened me up to see what they were probably thinking about underneath the surface. Thanks! 🙂

    When you say “most scholars” I wonder who you are referring to? I only have certain pages of the commentary, so I’ll have to check out the whole book to see if you cite who these scholars are. It was helpful to read the main questions and main interpretations.

  • Karen

    Now I will add thoughts from D&C Commentaries about section 10. I am specifically looking for comments which deal with the words “down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin” (verse 41) or “translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi” (verse 45).

  • Karen

    The following commentaries were ones I looked in, but they didn’t comment on the words in verses 41 and 45 I’m interested in. I include them because I find it interesting that they don’t address some words that I find so perplexing.

    -Hyrum M Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The D&C (SLC: DB, 1975), 54-5.

    -Sidney B. Sperry, D&C Compendium (SLC: Bookcraft, 1960), 50.

    -Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the D&C, 4 vol. (SLC: DB, 2000-2005), 1:74.

    -Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler, Revelations of the Restoration: A Commentary on the D&C and Other Modern Revelations (SLC: DB, 2000), 104.

    -Steven C. Harper, Making Sense of the D&C: A Guided Tour Through Modern Revelations (SLC: DB, 2008), 47.

  • Karen

    Monte S. Nyman and Daniel H. Ludlow do quote some of the words I’m interested in, but neither book adds any commentary. I will add their quotations then comment on them.

  • Karen

    Monte Nyman says,

    “The second record was included by Mormon, the abridger of the large plates, for a ‘wise purpose … according to the whisperings of the Spirit of the Lord’ (Words of Mormon 1:7). Joseph is thus instructed by the Lord to translate ‘the plates of Nephi’ down ‘to the reign of King Benjamin, or’ to the place where he had ‘translated, which you have retained’ (v. 41). Mormon included these the small plates of Nephi without any abridging.”

    From Monte S. Nyman, More Precious Than Gold: Commentary on the D&C, 2 vol (Orem: Granite Pub, 2008). 1:68-9)

  • Karen

    It is interesting to me that you mention these curious words “translate down to” but do not comment on them. They are just sort of in the mix of what you are using to tell the story. I am interested in why they aren’t so curious to anyone else. Am I missing something obvious in the wording that makes it a very simple phrase? I would love some help if you see these words as having a straightforward meaning.

    As you may have noticed from my main post, I find this verse in D&C 10 to be the key to understanding Words of Mormon.

  • Karen

    Actually, now that I look at Ludlow’s commentary again, I don’t know that I have anything particular to quote. It is interesting to me that he uses these exact words as an italicized subheading: “translate this first part of engravings of Nephi” but then the only commentary on it is a quotation from Joseph Fielding Smith about Joseph losing the 116 pages and how nice it is we have the small plates instead. I really think these words “first part” are so crucial to look at. If we assume the small plates are full, and only go to King Benjamin (which Ludlow’s quotation of Smith does indicate), then how do we explain these words?

  • Karen

    So, to summarize my own thoughts:
    Mormon has written the abridgment on separate plates and is about to hand them over to Moroni.
    He also decides to put the small plates with his abridgment. Whether or not he adds them, physically, to his record is not clear. (Perhaps Moroni did the physical adding? He was the one responsible for the addition of the sealed portion.)
    The small plates are a separate record, even when they are added to the abridgment.
    Mormon finds the small plates after he reads about King Benjamin receiving them from Amaleki. He is pleased with the prophecies and hopes the remnant of Lehi’s people will receive them someday. He adds a short record to the small plates, called the Words of Mormon, which likely mainly contained prophecies of Christ (from Benjamin, Abinadi, Samuel the Lamanite, etc.) and their fulfillments.
    While we have a short Words of Mormon in our scriptures, this does not seem to be the way Mormon wrote it. He begins several times in Words of Mormon to introduce his work in Words of Mormon, but then so little follows that one wonders why he spent so much time getting going.
    I would assume that I was being overly picky about this, except that D&C 10:41 points out something that may actually explain what seems to be odd to me. D&C 10 is where Joseph told to translate the small plates and use that to replace the lost 116 pages. In verse 41, Joseph is told to translate until he comes to Benjamin. That seems odd, since Benjamin himself never wrote on the small plates; we have to assume it refers to either Amaleki’s writing or Words of Mormon, both of which end by talking about Benjamin. But if he has to be told when to stop, then doesn’t that mean there was more that potentially could have been translated? In this case, Words of Mormon likely went on for several chapters, and Joseph was told to stop with Benjamin since the small plates were now becoming a replacement for the Book of Lehi and needed to fit in with the abridgment. Had the 116 pages not been lost, likely we would have all of the Words of Mormon, and in their original location in the gold plates – near the end of the Book of Mormon (before the Book of Ether? After?).
    That the Lord is the one choosing to make the Words of Mormon into a “transition” seems clear from D&C 10. He tells Joseph where to stop translating the small plates, he tells him to use this “record of Nephi” instead of the 116 pages, and he tells him that when he translates up through Benjamin, it will match up with “that which ye have retained.” In other words, there was already something to connect up to. The Lord directed the translation (telling Joseph how much of Words of Mormon to translate) so now the two would work together into a single record.
    This explains why Words of Mormon serves as transition, though did not have that particular purpose originally. It also explains why it ends so abruptly, and after repeated introductions/prefaces to his talk about Benjamin.

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