Mormon's Dilemma

Grant Hardy

in Understanding the Book of Mormon

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199731701
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199777167 | DOI:
Mormon's Dilemma

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  • East Asian Religions


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The majority of the Book of Mormon is narrated by Mormon, who is supposed to have lived at the end of Nephite history, in the fourth century AD. Whether one regards him as a historical figure or a fictional construct, he structures his story in characteristic ways. Clues to his character can be found in his autobiographical chapters, two letters and a sermon reproduced verbatim, and especially in the hundred or so brief editorial comments he makes throughout the history he narrates. These passages show Mormon in three modes: 1) as a conscientious historian concerned with names, dates, and documentary sources; 2) as a literary artist who shapes the narrative with aesthetic parallels, significant phrasing, and focused selection; and 3) as a moral guide who explicitly points out the fulfillment of prophecies as well as spiritual lessons. The story of the destruction of the city of Ammonihah is analyzed as an example of what happens when these three agendas are at odds with each other.

Keywords: Mormon; narrator; editorial comments; historian; literary artist; moral guide; Ammonihah; agendas

Chapter.  14303 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; East Asian Religions

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