188 Unexplainable Names

Lehi, Nephi, Helaman, Shiblon, Moronihah, Amalickiah, Korihor, Pahoran, Lamoni, Zeezrom, Shiz—what strange names! Most are difficult to pronounce, remember, classify, and keep straight. And there are 188 of them.[1] Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon from ancient records that included authentic names, which he was not at liberty to change. Some critics maintain that the Book of Mormon is fiction and that Joseph invented the names in the same way many authors of fiction do. It would be interesting to study this topic in more depth.

Many successful fiction writers who choose and invent names for their characters claim name selection is an extremely important and difficult process.[2] Literary name specialist Leonard Ashley asserted, “Names require serious and sensitive handling.”[3] If Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon as a work of fiction, did he handle names as seriously and sensitively as authors of fiction claim that they do?

[Sharon Black and Brad Wilcox, “188 Unexplainable Names: Book of Mormon Names No Fiction Writer Would Choose,” Religious Educator, vol.12, no. 2 (2011), pp. 119–133, https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/volume-12-number-2-2011/188-unexplainable-names-book-mormon-names-no-fiction-writer-would]

Narrow Path

The expression “narrow path” is unique to The Most Holy & Sacred Book of Mormon and one would have thought that if Joseph Smith had plagiarized the Bible to invent The Most Holy & Sacred Book of Mormon he would have borrowed the King James expression “straight and narrow way” instead.

This is just another of many witnesses to the truthfulness of this sacred record which confirms Jesus is the Christ, born of a virgin, died, rose again, and now sits at the right side of Father God!

20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world. (1 Nephi 8:20)

18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. (2 Nephi 31:18–19)

9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation. (2 Nephi 33:9)



The phrase “And it came to pass” occurs in The Book of Mormon 677 more times than in the Old Testament (KJV) – a number deemed to be excessive by some.

In truth, the phrase is based on the hebrew WAYEHI, which Bible translators rendered in more ways than one: “it happened,” “it became,” “it was,” etc..

As it turns out, The Book of Mormon translation is more consistent than the Bible, and the use of “And it came to pass” is not excessive.


“Waw” is the Hebrew letter most often used as a co-ordinating conjunction. It is attached to nouns in a list. The following is a good example of its use:

35 And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. (Genesis 24)

If written in proper English, only one conjunction would have been used, plus a series of commas:

He hath given him flocks, herds, silver, gold, menservants, maidservants, camels, and asses.

The Book of Mormon is full of these Hebrew like conjunctives. Here is just one example:

14 But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work. (Helaman 3)

If written in proper English it would have looked like this:

Their wars, contentions, dissensions, preaching, prophecies, shipping, and building of ships.

What was once something to scoff at, is now regarded as evidence Joseph did not write The Book of Mormon.


The word “type” does not occur in the KJV Bible yet it is repeatedly used in the Book of Mormon:

Mosiah 3:15 and many signs and wonders and types and shadows shewed he unto them concerning his coming and also Holy Prophets spake unto them concerning his coming and yet they hardened their hearts and understood not that the law of Moses availeth nothing except it were through the atonement of his blood

Mosiah 13:10 but this much I tell you what you do with me after this shall be as a type and a shadow of things which is to come

Mosiah 13:31 but behold I say unto you that all these things were types of things to come

Alma 13:16 now these ordinances were given after this manner that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God it being a type of his order or it being his order and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

Alma 25:10 for he said unto them What ye shall do unto me shall be a type of things to come

Alma 25:15 yea and they did keep the law of Moses for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet for it was not all fulfilled but notwithstanding the law of Moses they did look forward to the coming of Christ considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them

Alma 33:19 behold he was spoken of by Moses yea and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness that whosoever would look upon it might live and many did look and live

Alma 37:45 and now I say Is there not a type in this thing for just as suredly as this director did bring our fathers by following its course to the promised land shall the words of Christ if we follow its course carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

Ether 13:6 and that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph for the which things there has been a type

Source: Study Light

Which flies in the face of the critic who claims Joseph plagarized the King James Bible.


To prove the Book of Mormon was based on the Tyndale Bible (which Joseph did not have) and not the King James Version we offer the following: The word “fared” does not exist in the KJV Old Testament, nor the Coverdale, Geneva, or Bishop’s Bibles; only in the Tyndale (Thomas Matthew Bible) and the Book of Mormon:

“he hath fared foull with this folke” –Exodus 5:23

“and many more such things did he say unto them telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature therefore every man prospered according to his genius and that every man conquered according to his strength and whatsoever a man did was no crime” –Alma 30:17.

[Source: Study Light]


Superscript is an editorial introduction found in the beginning of a book of scripture and is used regularly throughout the Old Testament. Here is an example:

1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
2 To whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month. (Jeremiah 1)

The Book of Mormon contains similar editorial introductions:

An account of Lehi and his wife Sariah and his four sons, being called, (beginning at the eldest) Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. The Lord warns Lehi to depart out of the land of Jerusalem, because he prophesieth unto the people concerning their iniquity and they seek to destroy his life. He taketh three days’ journey into the wilderness with his family. Nephi taketh his brethren and returneth to the land of Jerusalem after the record of the Jews. The account of their sufferings. They take the daughters of Ishmael to wife. They take their families and depart into the wilderness. Their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness. The course of their travels. They come to the large waters. Nephi’s brethren rebel against him. He confoundeth them, and buildeth a ship. They call the name of the place Bountiful. They cross the large waters into the promised land, and so forth. This is according to the account of Nephi; or in other words, I, Nephi, wrote this record. (1 Nephi 1)


The use of the word “state” in The Book of Mormon is a fine example of how there were different authors within The Most Holy & Sacred Book of Mormon, none of whom were Joseph Smith.

The prophet Alma wasn’t the only author to use the word state, but he used it far more than any other author in The Book of Mormon. He liked it so much that he used it to restate a point of doctrine.

Compare verses four and ten in the following example. Also note the numer of times the word state is used in verses 10, 12, and 13.

4 And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.

10 Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state.
11 And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord.
12 And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience;
13 Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. (Alma 42)

What is important to understand is that Joseph did not use this word himself to describe the probationary state of man. In his own writings he only used the words sphere and agency but not state.


In the Old Testament when one author would quote another, often they would reverse the sequence. Here is an example:

4 And the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. (Leviticus 26)

27 And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. (Ezekiel 34)

This technique is called Seidel’s Law, which also occurs in The Most Holy & Sacred Book of Mormon. Here is an example:

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalm 24)

19 I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? (Alma 5)

Royal Skousen

Skousen’s work in linguistics has dealt chiefly with developing a theory of language called Analogical Modeling, a theory that predicts language behavior by means of examples rather than by rules. He has published three books on this subject: Analogical Modeling of Language (1989), Analogy and Structure (1992), and Analogical Modeling: An Exemplar-Based Approach to Language (2002). More recently, he has published on the quantum computation of Analogical Modeling, notably in his 2005 paper “Quantum Analogical Modeling” (available at www.arXiv.org).

Skousen began working on the critical text of the Book of Mormon in 1988. In 2001 he published the first two volumes of the Critical Text Project, namely, typographical facsimiles for the original and printer’s manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. From 2004 through 2009 he published the six books that make up volume 4 of the critical text, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. This work represents the central task of the Critical Text Project, to restore by scholarly means the original text of the Book of Mormon, to the extent possible.

In 2009 Skousen published with Yale University Press the culmination of his critical work on the Book of Mormon text, namely, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. The Yale edition presents the reconstructed original text in a clear-text format, without explanatory intervention. Unlike modern editions of the Book of Mormon that have added chapter summaries, scriptural cross-references, dates, and footnotes, this edition consists solely of the words dictated by Joseph Smith in 1828-29, as far as they can be established through standard methods of textual criticism. Later emendations by scribes, editors, and even Joseph Smith himself have been omitted, except for those that appear to restore original readings.


Earliest Text

Curriculum Vitae

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