Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Human in the Book of Mormon

I’ve been studying the Book of Mormon since I learned to read. Despite this, I think I’ve been missing some things from it. Sometimes I forget to think of the individual writers of the Book of Mormon as distinct people. Their messages are so unified—physically and spiritually. So I decided to pay close attention this time through to the differences between these men: the words and phrases they use, their moods, and how their individual lives may have influenced those differences. 

For instance, I’d remembered thinking that Jacob was the most poetic writer of the prophets, but I decided to try to quantify it somewhat. I made a list of some poetic words and phrases that were used only by Jacob in the Book of Mormon:

Magnify our/mine office, head of their corner, labor in sin, delicate, familiar, pure in heart, plead your cause, slumber, contempt, unsearchable, good hope, confessed the Christ. 

And another list of words and phrases unique to Jacob:

Sobbings of their hearts, pointing our souls, firmness in spirit, overanxiety, in very word, poured in his Spirit into my soul, lonesome, mourn out our days, adieu. 

Most of those sound pretty depressing, don’t they? Upon closer inspection, I noticed that a large portion of these phrases are found in the chapters wherein Jacob chastises the men in his society who are involved in immorality and tries to speak comfort to their wives and children. In that context, the tender and poignant words made more sense. Jacob did a great job using his vocabulary to put his heart and soul into a very sensitive subject that needed solving. He showed what a caring, worried, earnest man he was. I like to think (but somehow doubt) that I would’ve approached such a subject as well. 

Maybe I need to pull out my thesaurus more often. 


  1. It's really interesting to see how powerful word choice can be. We often don't think of the words we use, but as your post shows, the specific words used can do a lot to communicate empathy and chastisement all in a poetic way.

  2. I like that you easily embed the concept of diction as a lens for characterization. I also like that you showed concrete examples that helped us see the tenor of Jacob's writing, only then placing it in the context of his audience and subject.