Textual Connections in the Book of Mormon

Who quotes Abinadi in the Book of Mormon? Who does Abinadi quote?

One area that I’ve been studying lately has to do with how different prophets in the Book of Mormon quote from each other. I think this is an important issue because, as Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Our understanding of the prophetic word will be greatly expanded if we know how one prophet quotes another, usually without acknowledging his source.”

For example, Abinadi quotes from Moses, Isaiah, and other prophets (including perhaps Lehi). And recently, I’ve discovered something about how Abinadi’s words are used by others. In Alma 39-42,  Alma quotes several times from the prophet Abinadi. Here’s one example:

Alma says, “And behold, again it hath been spoken, that there is a first resurrectiona resurrection of all those who have been, or who are, or who shall be, down to the resurrection of Christ from the dead” (Alma 40:16).

Who spoke those words? When were they spoken? Compare them with these words from Abinadi: “And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ—for so shall he be called” (Mosiah 15:21).

So even though Alma doesn’t come out and say that he’s quoting Abinadi, he is. In fact in Alma 39-42 there are at least 13 allusions to Abinadi’s words.

Here’s why I think this is cool. Alma talks to his wayward son Corianton about three specific concerns (see Alma 40:1, 41:1, and 42:1). Nearly all of the allusions Alma makes to Abinadi cluster around those three topics. So picture Alma, a father worried about his son’s poor choices. His son has some concerns, and Alma turns to the words of a recent prophet, Abinadi, to address them.

So one principle we can apply today is that when we are trying to help others with their problems we can turn to the scriptures and the words of modern prophets.

I recently published an article that goes into much greater depth on how Alma quotes from Abinadi. I encourage you to check it out! You can download the article (for free) here: Textual Similarities in the Word of Abinadi and Alma’s Counsel to Corianton.

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6 Responses to Textual Connections in the Book of Mormon

  1. Gwen Krumperman says:

    John! Thanks for this. I am printing it and will study it in depth and hopefully be able to make some other similar connections before B of M for Seminary next year!
    Thanks for so many other memories!

  2. carter spear says:

    I like that. A lot!

  3. Brad Beauchamp says:

    DID I teach you this one morning during comp study?

  4. There’s another reason I think it’s cool to recognize that Alma is quoting Abinadi to Corianton. Corianton obviously had some mistaken notions about doctrine (40:1; 41:1). Corianton’s erroneous ideas had apparently been reinforced certain scripture passages that had been twisted and used to to support those erroneous ideas (Alma 41:1; perhaps it was Isabel who did the “wresting”).

    My hypothesis is that it was Abinadi’s sermon that Corianton (or his corrupters) were using as prooftexts for the erroneous ideas, specifically Mosiah 15, verses 9 (“The Lord bringeth about the restoration of these”), 24 (“The Lord bringeth about the restoration of … they that have died before Christ came“), and 19–20 (“The bands of death shall be broken”).

    It would take a while to explain (I have detailed notes, which I hope to flesh out … some day), but when you take certain phrases from Abinadi’s sermon out of context, they can be made to look like evidence for several false doctrines: universal salvation (Nehorism), or alternately, damnation/annihilation of all souls born before Christ. Reading between the lines, it appears that Alma specifically chose to comment on the very prooftexts that Corianton had been misinterpreting.

  5. admin says:

    Nathan – Thanks for your comment. In the article I start to explore the possibility your suggest, but only in a sentence or two. I hope you will pursue these interesting ideas!

  6. Ah, I found it on page 59—thanks for pointing it out. I think it would also be fun to write this up as a short story, in which we hear a dialogue between Corianton and Isabel, where she quotes Abinadi to him in order to undermine Corianton’s own teachings, messing with his mind. It could be a good illustration that “the devil can quote scripture” and that without living prophets, it can be tricky knowing what exactly a passage does or doesn’t mean.

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