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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The First Book of Nephi

It's time to start reading. The Book of Mormon is mostly chronological, so First Nephi is a good place to start.

You'll notice that the whole Book of Mormon is written in King James Bible style. Don't be intimidated. Just remember that "thee" and "thou" means "you", "thine" means "your", "mine" means "my". "Ye" usually means "you all".

The book is divided, like the King James Bible, into books, chapters, and verses. Cross references to other related verses are indicated with a superscript letter to the right of a word or phrase. If you have an actual printed book, look at the bottom of the page for the corresponding footnote or reference to another scripture. Online, you can just click on the underlined words.

References include Old and New Testament Bible books that will already be familiar. Other references are for books in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures particular to the LDS faith. "TG" means "Topical Guide", which is an LDS concordance of themes found in all presently revealed scripture, both ancient and latter-day.

There are also a lot of "and it came to pass" phrases. This is actually normal for the time period and the origins of the writing systems and languages being represented. Archaeologically speaking, carved monuments in several Latin American countries (which we presume were built by people related to or descended from people of the Book of Mormon) use this phrase quite frequently. It was simply a way of saying "and then what happened was...".

Most of the Book of Mormon has a time reference printed at the bottom right or bottom left hand corner of the page. The online version has the date ranges in the chapter heading. The first page of First Nephi, Chapter 1 (abbreviated as 1 Nephi 1), shows that the point in time where Nephi begins recording his family's history is 600 BC. This is inferred from his later prophetic statements that Christ would come 600 years after Nephi's family left Jerusalem (see
1 Ne. 10:4, 1 Ne. 19:8, and 2 Ne. 25:19). It is also pinpointed by events mentioned in the Bible that were contemporary and local to events mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The key event for which we have a reasonably accurate year is the invasion and conquering of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (see Jeremiah 52), which occurred a few years after Nephi and his family left Jerusalem.

You can use this site's timeline as a guide while reading as well.