There are 8 thoughts on “Notes on Book of Mormon Heads”.

  1. Great article Stephen. I have to admit that it boggles the imagination that Davis would stretch so far as to insinuate that Joseph Smith could use these simple headings as a form of mnemonic cue for the remainder of the section. I believe you mentioned that the one header was followed by over 7000 words. Even the best of authors would struggle to contain that much narrative in their minds –let alone considering that the normal limit of approximately 2000 words a day is average for most authors at the current time (and that is using modern technology, such as a computer with keyboard, word processor, and etc.) Imagine slowing the whole process down by considering that Joseph used a scribe who had to dip his quill into an inkwell after about a sentence of speech, the stopping for spelling questions which were bound to arise, trading off for the next sheet of paper when the last has been filled and other questions the scribe might have had regarding the text. Davis’s hypothesis is quite laughable when applied against these standards. I doubt that anyone could keep a narrative so fixated in their mind with these type of interruptions and under these primitive conditions that they could produce the equivalent of the Book of Mormon with the few mnemonic cues which you’ve illustrated. Very nice article in showing the fallacy of his argument.

  2. Great job! With some voices claiming that headings in the Book of Mormon could only have come from the mind of a nineteenth-century author, it is helpful to get more perspective.

  3. I should also mention that, on page 263, you state that Prof Skousen’s Earliest Text is a critical edition of the Book of Mormon, but it is not – it has no critical apparatus as a footer, which is the sine qua non of any critical edition.

    • Yes. If Moroni followed his father’s practice, chapter headers indicated a source change. In Moroni’s case, we don’t necessarily have a primary source, but the source for the content of those chapters appears to be practice, perhaps unwritten. Since it was not Moroni providing the words, however, it would qualify as material that might have a chapter header.

      • “Since it was not Moroni providing the words”? If you are referring to the chapter headers in the printed text, I was actually speaking of the short descriptors in verse 1 of those chapters, which I understand to come the engravings of Moroni:
        2:1 “The words of Christ, which he spake unto his disciples, the twelve whom he had chosen, as he laid his hands upon them –”
        3:1 “The manner which the disciples, who were called the elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers — ”
        4:1 “The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church; and they administered it according to the commandments of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true; and the elder or priest did minister it — ”
        5:1 “The manner of administering the wine –“

        • We are agreeing, I wasn’t clear. When Moroni enters the text after those introductions, they aren’t words he invented. They were coming from tradition (written or oral).

  4. My favorite example of a heading to an Egyptian text is the New Kingdom Autobiography of Ahmose, son of Abana (which is partly in first person, just like the heading to I Nephi):

    “The Crew Commander Ahmose son of Abana, the justifed; he says, I speak to you, all people. I let you know what favors came to me. I have been rewarded with gold seven times in the sight of the whole land, with male and female slaves as well. I have been endowed with very many fields. The name of the brave man is in that which he has done; it will not perish in the land forever.”

    Then the main body of his autobiography begins, in which (like I Nephi 1:1ff) he describes himself and his father:

    “He speaks as follows. I grew up in the town of Nekheb, my father being a soldier of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt,…”
    See M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, II:12.

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