1. "The Keystone of Our Religion"
Witnesses of the Book of Mormon
This recently discovered narrative, written by William McLellin, one of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, tells of his experience in 1833 when he and two of the Three Witnesses were fleeing for their lives. He pressed them to tell him absolutely if their testimony was true. Their unequivocal reply, with their lives on the line, makes this account a most powerful affirmation.
2. "All Things According to His Will"
Lehi's Call to Prophethood
How does Lehi’s call to be a prophet in 1 Nephi 1 compare with the callings of other ancient prophets? Using tools of literary and historical analysis, this article compares Lehi’s vision of God seated upon his throne with the prophetic commission pattern found in several Old Testament and other ancient Israelite sources.
3. "The Vision of the Tree of Life"
People and Symbols in the Vision of the Tree of Life
How does the Book of Mormon compare with ancient Egyptian and Greek texts that were written as guides for faith adherents of their respective sacred traditions? This classic article shows that Lehi’s record, which was written to guide those who wish to be redeemed by Christ and find the path to the Tree of Life, has a demonstrable compatibility with the ancient Near Eastern origin which it itself claims. Its message retains enormous significance in a modern setting and cannot be ignored or taken lightly.
4. "The Things Which I Saw While I Was Carried Away in the Spirit"
At the end of 1 Nephi 14, Nephi bore record that he had seen “the things which my father saw,” but Nephi’s vision in 1 Nephi 11-14 does not appear at first glance to have much in common with Lehi dream and revelations in 1 Nephi 8-10. On closer inspection, however, this convenient chart lines up over thirty elements that are surprisingly comparable in both passages. Viewing these two texts together yields new insights concerning the meanings of the Tree of Life and the future of Lehi’s posterity.
5. "Hearken to the Truth, and Give Heed unto It"
The Lord Guides...According to Faith and Diligence
The Nephite prophets were masterful record keepers. In 1 Nephi 6, 19, and Jacob 1, they write openly about their purposes. This article explains the patterns for historical writing one may find in the Book of Mormon, which leads to a fruitful reflection on what might be a "perfect pattern" for recording personal and church histories in modern times.
6. "Free to Choose Liberty and Eternal Life"
The Book of Lehi was regrettably lost in 1828 on the 116 pages. This article, however, makes a fascinating case that Lehi's written record underlay a good deal more of the writings of Nephi and Jacob than readers usually notice. Embedded in the Small Plates are quoted passages and characterizations of Lehi’s writings that offer important clues regarding the nature and content of Lehi's own written word.
7. "I Know in Whom I Have Trusted"
One of the most beautiful passages in all of scripture is Nephi’s psalm in 2 Nephi 4, written shortly after Nephi’s father Lehi had died. The sensitive reading in this BYU Studies article, by a professor of comparative literature, unfolds the intent, emotion, and beauty of Nephi’s eloquent words. By engaging the poetic and prophetic mind, the reader embraces profound understandings of this text and richly appreciates its significance.
8. "O How Great the Goodness of Our God"
In blessing his son Jacob, father Lehi said, "it needs must be, that there is an opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11). Jacob's landmark exposition in 2 Nephi 9 of the ways of life and death is an extensive meditation on the desires of men and women in mortality and how they lead to either spiritual life in Christ or death through the devil. As this chart clearly shows, Jacob focuses on the inward state of the souls who choose one or the other of these two sharply divergent paths.
9. "My Soul Delighteth in the Words of Isaiah"
Nephi Teaches the Words of Isaiah
Some critics have tried to explain the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon as the result of an idea that Joseph Smith supposedly got from a book written in 1825 called View of the Hebrews. Besides the fact that there is no evidence that he ever saw a copy of that book, this allegation can be tested empirically by comparing the Isaiah materials in these two books. This very early BYU Studies article from 1964 not only succeeded in putting this dubious notion completely to rest, but it also presents data that still today attests to the importance of certain Isaiah chapters in the Nephite prophetic worldview.
10. "He Inviteth All to Come unto Him"
The Book of Mormon is a very inviting book. Welcoming all, it turns no one away. Many verses in the Book of Mormon invite all people everywhere to come unto Christ. Through its sincere invitations, readers everywhere feel included in God’s saving love. They accept that invitation in faith by repenting, forsaking their sins, being baptized, and going forth to do good under the guidance of the Holy Ghost and the Lord’s inspired direction.
11. "Press Forward with a Steadfastness in Christ"
Nephi Teaches the Importance of Feasting on the Words of Christ
As readers draw to the end of 2 Nephi, Frederick W. Axelgard's article is well worth reading. It offers a holistic approach to studying 1 and 2 Nephi, "which seeks to integrate rather than fragment the meaning of scriptural passages." He reasons that a deeper conviction of "scriptural truth" is gained when one considers how sections fit together as a whole, recognizing thematic developments and organizational structure. Because one might wonder why Nephi divided his writings into two books, this holistic reading helps to pull all the pieces onto a canvas to see the purposes and testimony of Nephi behind all that he has written here.
12. "Seek Ye for the Kingdom of God"
Jacob Magnifies his Calling from the Lord
Jacob's impassioned temple speech in Jacob 2-3 calls the people in the city of Nephi to repentance. Correcting one's course and obtaining forgiveness are complicated processes; each case is highly individual. While certain basic requirements apply to all people, specific steps may need to be taken depending on the situation, and in no case should any important steps be somehow overlooked. The Book of Mormon is a handbook for repentance. This chart details 16 points of repentance that summarize key ideas from many scriptural passages. This list encourages everyone to expand their contemplation of elements in the repentance process.
13. "The Allegory of the Olive Trees"
Zenos's Allegory of the Olive Tree quoted in Jacob 5 is one of the most elaborate allegories in all of scripture. As Hugh Nibley once commented, whoever wrote Jacob 5 knew everything a person needs to know in order to grow good olives in the eastern Mediterranean region, and that observation is borne out in the review essay by William Hess of recent botanical literature about olive cultivation in Israel. The author of Jacob 5 also knew the character and prophetic future of the House of Israel. As Paul Y. Hoskisson's article points out, many of the events described in it can be rooted with relative certainty to specific historical periods. Hoskisson argues that Jacob intended his people to understand the allegory in temporal as well as spiritual senses. Reading this grand allegory in all these ways helps all readers to understand Jehovah's dealings with the House of Israel and his plan for the redemption of all who will have him as their Lord.
The original title page of the Book of Mormon states three purposes that this compilation and abridgment of records should serve. Mormon had these purposes in mind as he selected the content for the Book of Mormon. In a fascinating way, the Book of Mormon is exceptionally conscientious about helping readers know the various records and sources from which Mormon and Moroni drew, as Mormon's comments in the Words of Mormon exemplify. Yet many readers get lost in this complex library of ancient sources. To help readers follow this rather amazing textual history, Chart 13 organizes the many sources that went into this assemblage. Despite the effects of selection, extraction, abridgement, and translation, the clearly important messages from these various underlying Book of Mormon records have been preserved for us, centuries later.
15. "Eternally Indebted to Your Heavenly Father"
One of the most famous passages in King Benjamin’s speech is Mosiah 2:17, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." But this is not all that Benjamin said about service. He has much to say about why we should serve. This chart highlights points made in a lengthy study entitled "Benjamin’s Speech: A Masterful Oration."
After acknowledging that serving fellow beings produces no reason to boast (because all service is service to God and all service to God still leaves a person an unprofitable servant), Benjamin's logic teaches that we are morally obligated for several reasons to serve others. We have ought to serve because we have received benefits from the service of others, because we have been commanded to, because we have covenanted to, because we have accepted forgiveness from Christ and therefore should give to others, and because in this way we come to know the Master–and that is ultimate blessing we can receive: "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served?" (Mosiah 5:13).
16. "Ye Shall Be Called the Children of Christ"
Covenant-making has been studied by scholars as a fundamental part of ancient Near East society, both in civic life and in religion. Studies of Assyrian and Hittite treaties as well as passages from the Old Testament show that ancient treaties or covenants followed a relatively consistent pattern. In BYU Studies (24:2, 1984), Professor Stephen D. Ricks shows in ample detail that this pattern is also present in King Benjamin's address to his people. The pattern includes a preamble, sharing of antecedent history, outlining individual stipulations, participants giving oaths of acceptance, warnings of curses to attend covenant-breakers, promises of blessings to covenant-keepers, and the recording and depositing of the text. Not only does this pattern help modern readers to take their own personal covenants more seriously, but also, as Ricks writes, "the extent to which the Book of Mormon accords with ancient Near Eastern canons of literary style and structure may . . . provide a test of authenticity" for the reality and validity of the Book of Mormon.
17. "A Seer … Becometh a Great Benefit to His Fellow Beings"
Before his mortal birth and after his resurrection, Jesus Christ personally appeared to a number of his faithful servants. It is noteworthy how many times this occurred. As Book of Mormon Chart 41 shows, nine Book of Mormon prophets were visited by the Lord; four more are taught by "the angel of the Lord." These witnesses, who included Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Lamoni, Mormon, and Moroni, all testified of the divinity of the Savior and his mission. As those who had "seen" both things as they were and things as they are to come, these seers (those who are endowed by God with special gift for seeing spiritually) offer the world truths that are of the greatest benefit to all mankind. All of them bore mighty testimonies of the work and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mormon, one of the witnesses, wrote that heavenly messengers "prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men" (Moroni 7:31-32).
18. "God Himself … Shall Redeem His People"
Abinadi, Jacob, and Nephi all explain that "none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning [the] Christ" (Jacob 7:11). In particular, Isaiah wrote powerfully about the mission of the Redeemer. Many of his words are quoted in the Book of Mormon, by Nephi, Jacob, Abinadi, and Jesus during his visit to the Nephites. In beautiful language, Isaiah describes his understanding of the Savior as the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53: "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief… but he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:3, 5). When Abinadi was on trial for his life, he defended himself against the accusations of the priests of Noah by reciting and interpreting for them this very chapter (see Mosiah 14-16). To aid your study of this passage of scripture, New Testament Chart 10-15 lists over 30 ways in which Isaiah's prophecy relates quite explicitly to the life, suffering, and atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
19. "None Could Deliver Them but the Lord"
At the conclusion of his record, Jacob remarks that his people were "wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions" (Jacob 7:26). Both Alma and Ammon also use this phrase, calling the Nephites "wanderers in a strange land" (Alma 13:23; 26:36). This language is reminiscent of the ancient Israelites, who were exiled to the wilderness for forty years during the Exodus (see Numbers 14:33). As scholar S. Kent Brown points out in his article "The Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon," allusions to the Exodus narrative are prevalent throughout the Book of Mormon. Teachers and prophets often used the Exodus as proof of the Lord's power, or connected their situation to the Israelite's experiences in order to inspire hope and courage. Lehi and his family may even have recognized that the journey they were undertaking mirrored in several ways the flight of their ancestors into the wilderness. Alma the Elder saw his deliverance from bondage in the land of Helam as another example of the way in which the Lord will deliver his faithful people. Kent Brown's article helps modern readers see how the writers of the Book of Mormon linked the Exodus with the Atonement as the ultimate source of deliverance.
20. "My Soul Is Pained No More"
Interestingly, Alma the Younger gives three accounts (in Mosiah 27, Alma 36 and Alma 38) of his conversion. Though given at different times and under different circumstances, each of these three uses similar phrases identifiable as Alma's unique voice (see Chart 107), and each account was given for a unique purpose and addressed to separate audiences. Chart 106 highlights the differences between these three accounts. In Mosiah 27 to the group that surrounded him as he awoke from his three-day spiritual coma, Alma uses "direct, antithetical parallelism to emphasize that the atonement had miraculously changed him from one former state into a new person." Alma 36, given later in Alma's life, is embedded "in a blessing to his son Helaman…in the form of an extended chiasm." His third and final account to his son Shiblon in Alma 38 is in a shorter, narrative style. These charts will aid in identifying and contrasting "Alma's feelings before and after he was forgiven" (see Lesson 20, section 3
21. "Alma … Did Judge Righteous Judgments"
What type of government did the Nephites have under the reign of judges after the abdication of King Mosiah? Though some scholars have argued that the government of the Nephites, switching from monarchy to elected Judges, is evidence that Joseph Smith reflected American sentiments as he translated the text of the Book of Mormon, Richard Bushman shows in "The Book of Mormon and the American Revolution" that not only is the Nephite government not Americana, it's not even a republican form of government. He explains that "the chief judge was judge, executive, and legislator rolled into one, just as the earlier kings had been." The Nephites did not have a written constitution defining a ruler's powers, nor did they establish checks or limitations on the government outside of electing judges into office. The new form of government "included elements of a republic, a democracy, and a theocracy" (see Lesson 21
). This article will be helpful in discussions of King Mosiah and the "reign of the judges."
22. "Have Ye Received His Image in Your Countenances?"
In his discourse to the members of the Church in Zarahemla, Alma asks fifty, powerful rhetorical questions designed to help his listeners assess their spiritual condition and motivate them to continue in the repentance and conversion process. Today, members of the Church who are seeking to experience a "mighty change of heart" can still examine and introspectively apply Alma's questions. Charts 62-65 helpfully list these questions from Alma 5, topic by topic. Chart 61 gives all readers, at a glance, a very helpful overview of the gospel themes that Alma covers in this famous chapter, as he guides his people along the path of Christ to eternal life.
23. "More Than One Witness"
To appreciate fully why Alma, the High Priest, goes alone into the hostile territory of Ammonihah, one must understand the law regarding apostate cities in Deuteronomy 13:12–18. Alma would have had some version of this law on the plates of brass (1 Nephi 5:11). The law says that if you know that a city is apostate, one must go there and "enquire," and "make search," and "ask diligently." If the city is truly apostate, then it is to be "utterly destroyed" and left as a "heap." In the Book of Mormon, Alma went to see if the city of Ammonihah or anyone in it could be reclaimed. He was rejected after finding that "Satan had gotten great hold upon the hearts of the people" (Alma 8:9), but he returned to cry repentance and to warn of impending destruction. Chart 126 outlines how Ammonihah, based on Alma's description, fulfills the conditions of an apostate city given in the Law of Moses. This chart can be used with Lessons 23 or 24 while discussing either Alma's difficult purpose in Ammonihah or the city's eventual destruction.
24. "Give Us Strength According to Our Faith … in Christ"
This lesson begins with a discussion about foreordination. Terryl Givens's book When Souls Had Wings: Pre-mortal Existence in Western Thought covers expansively the idea of the premortal existence of souls in various lines of Western philosophy and religion. A panel made up of four interdisciplinary reviewers explored this book in a program sponsored by BYU Studies, and their comments are now available in BYU Studies Quarterly. This material offers a broad background to show the importance and distinctiveness of LDS doctrines regarding the premortal existence.
25. "They Taught with Power and Authority of God"
Alma 17-22 cover the missionary works of Ammon and the sons of Mosiah among the Lamanites. Though the sons suffered many hardships during their 14-year ministry, their efforts helped many people become converted to the Lord. In preparing for this lesson, Chart 109: "Missionary Work," can be helpful to keep track of the names and locations that are important to the story of Ammon and his brothers. The chart lists and compares the work of many of the ancient American missionaries (including the sons of Mosiah), the people they preached to, the degree of success they had, and the scriptural references pertaining to their missionary labors. This chart also briefly summarizes key events and the remarkable impact that the sons of Mosiah had on the Lamanite people.
26. "Converted unto the Lord"
Chart 30: "Flashbacks in the Book of Alma" is an excellent visual representation of the time-line in the 63 chapters of Alma, which can be a bit confusing. Alma 1-27 cover the same 14 years of history three times from the perspectives of three different groups of people: Alma and Amulek's experiences in chapters 1-16; a flashback in chapters 17-20 of Ammon's ministry to the people of Lamoni; and a second flashback in chapters 21-27, which records the conversion of King Lamoni's father and then the Anti-Nephi-Lehies' move to Jershon. This chart is a great reminder of how the complex events and principal characters in these three accounts impressively interact with one another, each doing their own thing but all working together toward the same end.
27. "All Things Denote There Is a God"
Korihor's teachings, which can be called "Korihorisms," parallel a broad range of modern philosophies, touching on at least fifteen contemporary schools of thought. Chart 78: "The Teachings of Korihor in Alma 30" identifies each of Korihor's main ideologies with a modern philosophical counterpart. While it would take weeks to discuss all of these critical theories in any detail, it is helpful to recognize how many types of arguments he potently raised. Many of these have been standard lines of anti-establishment attitudes and anti-religious arguments throughout the history of civilization. Modern people are well warned to avoid similarly erroneous arguments today.
28. "The Word Is in Christ unto Salvation"
In discussing Alma 32 and the planting of the seed of faith, an article in BYU Studies, "Watermelons, Alma 32, and the Experimental Method," is fun to read. In this article, Joseph Hepworth meditates on the idea that "as spiritual scientists, we must take as much care in our experimentation as do the physical scientists. . . . Our scientists have spent many years being trained to perform their physical experiments. We should not expect commensurate results with spiritual experiments without paying a comparable price."
And then in talking about the seed that Alma wants his Zoramite listeners to plant, note that the seed is what he calls "the word" (Alma 33:22-23). That word is a seven part formulation, which may have constituted a widely taught formulation of faith among the Nephites, as charts 42 and 43 conveniently display. And that "word" is a summary of belief in Christ, his atonement, resurrection, and our judgment at the last day. And this makes sense. In order for a seed to grow up in us unto eternal life (Alma 32:41-42), one needs to be planting and cultivating the seeds that can produce the fruit of eternal life.
29. "Give Ear to My Words"
In a ground-breaking article in 1969, "Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon," John W. Welch introduced to readers of BYU Studies to the idea that chiasmus might enhance the understanding and interpretation of Book of Mormon scriptures. While much has transpired in study of chiasmus over the intervening four decades, the chiastic structure of Alma's words to his son Helaman in Alma 36 remains a masterful example of chiastic writing, as is conveniently presented in Chart 132. Refining chiastic analysis in 2004, Boyd and Farrell Edwards (both professors of physics) addressed in BYU Studies the statistical question: "Does Chiasmus Appear in the Book of Mormon by Chance?" In carrying out this study they develop several tools that may be applied to evaluate the significance of any chiastic structure. Of all the texts they have examined, they found that Alma 36 measured the strongest. While these scholars acknowledge that "who the designer might be—Joseph Smith or another modern author with preknowledge of chiasmus, God, Satan, or ancient authors with connections to the old world—cannot be determined using our statistical analysis," they conclude "with 99.98 percent certainty" that the chiastic arrangement in Alma 36 occurred "by design" and not "by chance" (pp. 123-24).
30. "The Great Plan of Happiness"
The Book of Mormon adds an enormous amount to our understanding of the realities, purposes, and processes of the Resurrection. It is one of the greatest gifts of God to all mankind. And as Alma teaches his son Corianton, God’s mercy consists in giving people time to repent in preparation for the day of final judgement and resurrection.
31. "Firm in the Faith of Christ"
While people may wonder why there are so many chapters in the Book of Mormon about war, modern people certainly realize that warfare was a common experience in the ancient world, and that military power struggles are still with us today. It is well said that whoever wrote these chapters knew intimately the agonies, strategies, logistics, psychology, emotions, and morals of armed conflict. Only through faith in a loving God can human beings make ethical sense and take spiritual guidance from the horrors of human conflict.
32. "They Did Obey … Every Word of Command with Exactness"
A chief characteristic of Helaman's stripling warriors was their obedience to the commands of their leader, the prophet Helaman (See Alma 57:21), and their strict adherence to their mother's teachings. Because of their faithful actions, they were protected by the Lord. Just as these young warriors were taught the way of God, we also have been given the opportunity to study the Lord’s words in the Book of Mormon.
In his article "More Than Meets the Eye: Concentration of the Book of Mormon," Steven C. Walker warns us not to take the text lightly, despite the number of and it came to pass's. "The essence of Book of Mormon style is concentration." Far from being "wordy" or redundant, the Book of Mormon is highly focused on its purpose of showing God's dealings with man.
In "Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon: A Preliminary Survey," John A. Tvedtnes reminds us that the "The Book of Mormon, in its English form as provided by Joseph Smith, is in many respects a nearly literal translation...Indeed, in most cases thus far investigated, Book of Mormon expressions which are ungrammatical in English are perfect Hebrews grammar." These words, which are translated with exactness, can be obeyed with exactness.
Amidst adversity, Helaman taught his two thousand "stripling warriors" about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Helaman here is the son of Helaman, who was the son of Alma, who was the friend of the four sons of Mosiah, who were the grandsons of King Benjamin. Benjamin’s speech became one of the foundational documents of Nephite religion and politics, and so it makes perfect sense that Nephite missionaries going to Lamanite nations would carry with them the words of King Benjamin, as instructed by the prophet of their day.
34. "How Could You Have Forgotten Your God?"
The war between the Nephites, Lamanites, and the Gadianton Robbers was long and complex, with examples of several types of warfare, ranging from political intrigue to open battle. Ray Hillam’s article “The Gadianton Robbers and Protracted War” not only gives a succinct overview of incidents and characters, but also discusses each of the events covered in Lesson 34. Ray delves into the tactics and motivations of the principle characters, as well as the consequences of their actions. He then ties the Book of Mormon events with modern-day terrorists, guerilla warriors, and unprincipled conspirators. These insights enable readers to find personal application amidst the clamorous descriptions of warfare.
35. "Repent and Return unto the Lord"
Chart 42 deals with Samuel the Lamanite's prophecies about the birth and death of Christ. Because the very lives of the Nephite believers depended on the fulfillment of these prophecies, Nephi and Christ paid careful attention to documenting their exact fulfillment. Nephi also tracked Samuel's prophecies concerning Christ's death and their fulfillment. The references for each of the prophecies and their fulfillment are listed in the chart.
Chart 105 shows how Samuel quoted key words from King Benjamin's speech, which had been given in the same city of Zarahemla, a century earlier. Those words contained the full name of the Messiah that was revealed by Benjamin to his people as a sacred part of his covenant speech. It was a name that had not been given to them before. The fact that Samuel would have given them exactly that same sacred name probably reminded them of their own departure from ways that they knew were right and stirred up more than ever their anger against him.
36. "On the Morrow Come I into the World"
The first section of Lesson 36 focuses on the signs of the Savior's birth, which presents an opportunity to briefly review the charts of the Samuel's prophecies from last week. Samuel, however, was not the only one to give signs of the Savior's advent; prophets in all dispensations, in the Old and New Worlds, declared the coming and the atonement of the Son of God. Such prophecies related not only to his birth and mission but also to specific details of his ministry and death. New Testament Chart 8-9: "Prophecies of Christ's Ministry in the Meridian of Time" enumerates these prophecies with their scriptural references and categorizes them in topical groupings. Several of these categories, including "His Birth" and "Time and Place of Birth" are particularly pertinent for Lesson 36.
37. "Whosoever Will Come, Him Will I Receive"
At the time of the Savior's crucifixion in the Old World, cataclysmic destructions occurred in the New World, fulfilling the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite. The account in 3 Nephi describes twenty-one disasters that befell the Nephites at this time, with some cities being burned, sunk, or broken up. For three days storms raged, the earth shook, and the land was covered by impenetrable darkness. What could have caused such great destruction? As Bart J. Kowallis, Chair of the Department of Geology at BYU, shows, each of the elements mentioned in the description of these destructions compares remarkably well with descriptions of explosive volcanic eruptions, such as Mt. Pelée (1902), Krakatoa (1883), and Tambora (1815). Kowallis systematically places each Book of Mormon disaster into the context of volcanic eruptions, citing modern-day equivalents and eyewitness accounts. He also explains how unlikely it would be for these geological crises to occur individually. In a follow-up article, Benjamin Jordan shows that the phenomenon of liquefaction may further account for coastal cities sinking into the water. These articles help to make the disasters reported in 3 Nephi all the more real.