Moroni’s Directive Reexamined: Pondering the Book of Mormon










2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
(Moroni 10:2-5)

However the original reading of the Book of Mormon as found in both the Printer’s Manuscript and the 1830 Edition has:

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, and he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
(Moroni 10:4-5 Printer’s Manuscript and 1830 Edition)

This word “and” which was removed starting with the 1837 edition, is retained in both the Restored Covenant Edition (from the ZRF) and in The Book of Mormon; the Earliest Text (Royal Skousen).

In Hebrew the word “and” can also indicate “then” (as indicated in a footnote to the Restored Covenant Edition text).  However this is not the case in English, so beginning in the 1837 edition the word “and” was removed to create an implied “then” understanding the text to mean:

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, [then] he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

However one can just as easily retain the “and” in verse 4, and understand the “and” at the beginning of verse 5 to mean “then” as follows:

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, and he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 [Then] by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

This gives us a radically different meaning.  If we understand the “and” in verse 4 to mean “then” there is an implied guaranteed answer.  However is we understand the “and” at the beginning of verse 5 to mean “then” there is no such implied guarantee.

In the original text, Moroni 10 does not guarantee that everyone who asks with a sincere heart will get a special revelation. 

In fact the directive from Moroni is not about a mystical process, but a rational one.  In verse 3 Moroni directs us to: “ponder it in your hearts”.  Lets look at this word “ponder”.

The 1828 edition of Webster’s dictionary defines “ponder” as follows:

1. To weigh in the mind; to consider and compare the circumstances or consequences of an event, or the importance of the reasons for or against a decision.

Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19.

2. To view with deliberation; to examine.

Ponder the path of thy feet. Proverbs 4:26.

The Lord pondereth the hearts. Proverbs 21:2.

To ponder on, is sometimes used, but is not be to countenanced.

And the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary defines “deliberation” as:

1. The act of deliberating; the act of weighing and examining the reasons for and against a choice or measure; consideration. We say, a measure has been taken with deliberation

2. Mutual discussion and examination of the reasons for and against a measure; as the deliberations of a legislative body or council.

This word is clearly describing a rational process, by which one considers the Book of Mormon with rational judgment.  The text goes on to say that if a person receives a mystical revelation, that person will know “by the power if the Holy Ghost”, but that the typical person would have to simply rely on rational judgment. 







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