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. 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. Literary name specialist Leonard Ashley asserted, “Names require serious and sensitive handling.” 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]