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Accusatory Questions

Why does the Book of Mormon lack internal quotation like the Bible has?

by Jeff Lindsay

(The objection was raised that the Book of Mormon is devoid of later authors who quote earlier authors, suggesting that there weren't really multiple authors but just one fraudulent author, Joseph Smith.)

The Book of Mormon certainly includes internal quotation. Among multiple examples, Alma 36:22 borrows 21 words directly from 1 Nephi 1:8. Helaman 14:12 exactly quotes 21 words (a coincidence) Mosiah 3:8. Alma, in discussing Nephi and the Liahona, indirectly refers to the brass serpent of Moses as did Nephi, mentioning the "easiness of the way" (just viewing the serpent to be healed) as did Nephi (compare Alma 37:46 to 1 Nephi 17:41). A list of five forms of sin given by King Benjamin in Mosiah 2:13 ( murder, plunder, theft, adultery, and any manner of wickedness) is repeated seven other times in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 29:36; Alma 23:3; 30:10; Helaman 3:14; 6:23; 7:21; and Ether 8:16), as if it became a moral formula (see Reexploring the Book of Mormon, p. 23). Events and lessons from the records of Lehi and Nephi are quoted throughout later books. Prophecies of Nephi, Zenos, Samuel the Lamanite, and others are referenced, quoted, and discussed in subsequent times.

I'm curious about the source of this attack on the Book of Mormon. I've heard it a couple of times now, but it's simply incorrect. We should also think about the implications of the accurate internal quotes in the record. Since Joseph dictated the book to scribes without going back or asking them to reread previously dictated sections, how was he able to quote passages separated by many pages? The internal consistency of the Book of Mormon is indirect evidence of its authenticity. (Test: try quoting from memory 21 words from something you wrote a few weeks ago.)

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