Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:4:5:Colophons: 3 Nephi

Colphons: 3 Nephi

Colphons: 3 Nephi

A preface at the beginning of the "Book of Nephi" (i.e., 3 Nephi) provides a brief genealogical sketch going back to Lehi and including information nowhere else mentioned. Mormon also inserted some editorial comments in 3 Nephi 6:8-26, apparently triggered by his inability to include much of what had transpired in the past twenty-five years. He commented on the nature of his record-keeping and identified himself. The insert ends with the characteristic "Amen." Chapters eight through eleven, detailing the days of darkness, are also set off by colophons. Mormon began in 8:1-2 by commenting on calendar dating and the author of the material he was abridging. He ended in 10:19 with the words "Therefore for this time I make an end of my sayings."

Chapters eleven through twenty-six cover Jesus' two public visits to the New World (Mormon also recorded a private visit to the twelve disciples in chapters twenty-seven and twenty-eight). A preface before chapter eleven reports, "Jesus Christ did show himself unto the people of Nephi." Mormon ended the section with the lengthy passage in 26:6-21, where he commented on his records, summarized Christ's visits, and described the results of those visits....

Considering the way Joseph dictated the book to scribes, for the most part in a matter of weeks without revising what he had dictated, we should realize that he could not himself have come up with this complicated set of prefaces and summaries. It is unlikely that he would go to the trouble to insert anything like them (they are not required to move the story along). It is also most unlikely that, while dictating, he could keep in mind what he had promised in the prefaces and then remember to close off so many sections neatly with summaries. Much more believable are the claims in the Book of Mormon itself that the record was done by ancient writers working with written materials over long periods of time.[1]


  1. John A. Tvedtnes, "Colophons in the Book of Mormon," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 4.