A Comparative Book of Mormon Chronology
Introduction & Contents
by Don R. Hender
[601 BC-421 AD —— 1 Nephi 1-Moroni 10]
[@2250 - 590 BC — Book of Ether]
C O N T E N T S
There has been a generally accepted 'Traditional' Book of Mormon
Timeline, which first appeared in 1890 and then was incorporated into the
Book of Mormon published text as a suggested timeline in 1921 so the book's
readers could relate the events of the Book of Mormon readily to a time date.
This Book of Mormon Timeline was prepared by Elder George Reynolds of the
Seventy as a pamphlet entitled 'Book of Mormon Chronology Chart'. This
timeline had originally been included in Elder Reynold's book, 'The Story
of the Book of Mormon', which appeared in 1888. It was Apostle James E.
Talmage who liberally integrated Elder Reynold's suggested timeline into
the 1921 edition of the Book of Mormon as footnotes associated with the
Book of Mormon's own recorded dating in the text.
That timeline has two particular benchmarks. The Book of Mormon states
that Lehi departed Jerusalem 600 years before Christ. And though the Book of
Mormon also dates come events in terms of the 'year of the judges' all such
Book of Mormon suggested time date notes has been listed relative to the
600 BC date of Lehi's departure. This 600 BC date as the first year of
King Zedekiah as compared with such scholarly Biblically datings varies by
a few years, which is quite acceptable as each dating systems have been
independently determined and ought to vary somewhat. In any event relative
events may easily be kept in correlation by the aid of the two 'parallel'
dating systems. The second benchmark date used by the Book of Mormon is that
of the birth of Christ according to the Book of Mormon record and such
suggested dates in the 'AD' have been provided in the notes relative to the
date and time of Christ's birth.
Now the need for a 'Comparative Book of Mormon Chronology' comes out of
a number of reasons. The simplest of which is that Elder Reynolds while
using exclusively the internally recorded dates as given in the Book of
Mormon, not all dates fit precisely and neatly and completely into place
without Elder Reynolds making some 'presumptions'. This has caused at
least one good reason for an updated paralleling dating for at least the
first 70 years of the Book of Mormon, which has been completed in 'Part 1'
of this text.
Now while the Book of Mormon does give the statement that
Lehi left Jerusalem 600 years before the birth of Christ, it does not give
any directly date statements relative to that departure date until the
5th chapter of Second Nephi. The suggested datings applied during
that time from 600 BC to 569 BC and then 559 BC have been 'presumed' with
only one subjectively applied statement concerning Lehi's party having
traveled in the wilderness for a period of 8 years time. Elder Reynolds
subjectively applies that 8 years to the time from when Lehi left Jerusalem
to the time when Lehi's party arrived at the first land they called Bountiful.
In doing so an unaceptable anachonism has been created which requires a more
objective reading of the text and what it actually did mean and say.
When in 1879 Apostle Orson Pratt added a number of crossreferences to the
text along with dividing the text into verses and scriptual type chapters, he
crossreferenced quite appropriately Nephi's reference to Jeremiah being put
into prison with Jeremiah 37:15. That imprisonment occured about the 7-8th
year of the reign of Zedekiah. When Nephi made this statement he was returning
from Jerusalem with his brothers and the family of Ishmael. Now Nephi cannot
be in two different places at the same time. He cannot be returning from
Jerusalem with the family of Ishmael at the same time he is entering the
land of Bountiful. So clearly Elder Reynolds' presumed application of the
8 years journey in the wilderness to that time from Jerusalem to Bountiful
is an incorrect presumption and application. What does appears to be correct,
as confirmed by a more careful reading of the abridged text, is that the 8
years journey recorded in 1 Nephi 17:5 refered only to that last wilderness
journey from the valley of Lemuel to the land of Bountiful and not from when
Lehi first left Jerusalem.
Thus Part 1 of the text seems will justified and
needed to adjust the 'Traditionally' suggested dating to a more acceptablely
oriented dating of the first 27 chapters of the Book of Mormon.
Now as to Part 2, there seems to be no greatly
controversial need from 2 Nephi 6 - 4 Nephi as there is in the first part of
the Book of Mormon dating. Still there are a few little tweaks and considerations
of interest which may be addressed. One such example it the general presumption
made by the quick study readers of the Book of Mormon concerning the great
destruction at the time of the death of the Savior and his appearance to
the Nephites after that destrution. Many become so envolved in the concept of '
Jesus Christ visiting the Nephites in America that they are not careful to
read what the text states. The destruction lasted for three days, first with
the tremendous first three hours of vast destruction upon all the face of
the land and then darkness covering the land for 3 days when finally the land
clived back together, that is the after shocks and such did also cease. At
that time, presumably at that time when the darkness yielded again to light,
a voice was heard out of heaven in all the land. It was the voice of Christ,
and all heard the voice together. And then after the voice had been heard
most students of the Book of Mormon have been taught or have presumed that
Jesus Christ then comes in that same time frame to visit those who had
gathered to the temple in Bountiful.
Now Jesus Christ did come and visit the Nephites who had gathered to the
temple and land of Bountiful, but it was not at that same time or even the
next day after they had all heard the voice. In fact, is was not until about
one year later that Jesus finally did come and visit the Nephites who remained
and likely had gathered to the Bountiful Temple, the Zarahemla temple being
burned and destroyed, for the next year's passover week. That is one example
of the type of 'tweaks' that are placed in Part 2.
Part 3 deals with the time and events during the
life's of Mormon and his son Moroni in the books of Mormon, Moroni and even
some parts of Ether as it relates to Nephite time. The major cause and need
for this part is due to the highly condensed abridged nature of the Book of
Mormon. Most 'quick read' subjective students just do not take the time
to fully 're-constitute' this time in the Book of Mormon to a full life size
and real time perspective. Rather they have taken the nature of the 'abridged
dating' and used it to their own subjective purposes, which includes such
things as applying Jaredite timed events inappropriately to supposed parallel
One such application is that time in which Mormon does finally gather all
the remaining Nephites, who will come, to come and fight at the last great
battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites. In Jaredite history, Shiz and
Coriantumr determined to gather in all the Jaredite people in all the land
of the Jaredites either unto Shiz or unto Coriantumr. Thus the Jaredite history
records that it was over the space of 4 years over which Shiz and Coriantumr
did so gather the entire nation either unto Shiz or unto Coriantumr, with
no one being left out. For their own intent and purposes, many scholars apply
this same 'four year period' for Mormon to gather the remaining Nehpites who
will come to fight with him. The Book of Mormon never states that Mormon's
gathering took four years like the Jaredite entire nation and entire land
gathering took. And either because of the one hundreth part which Mormon's
abridgment is, they commonly do not consider that much of the land of the
Nephites had already been invaded, captured and taken unto the Lamanites and
was already under Lamanite rule. All that remained for Mormon to gather from
was likely but a fraction, say a quarter at best of the land to gather from.
It did not take Mormon fours years. The Lamanite King did not allow Mormon
a four year grace period for such a gathering. Likely it a year or even
less such as a 'season' that was granted Mormon to gather from the remaining
Nephites those who would come to fight. A sizable number even then just did
not come to the last battle at Cumorah. For there were battles between
Nephites and Lamanites after Cumorah, in one such was Mormon finally killed
according to Moroni's record. And for years after, the Lamanites hunted the
remaining Nephites, killing all those who would not deny the Christ.
That is just one example why there is a need to spend time in reconstituting
the events of Mormon and Moroni in Part 3.
Part 4 is a short look into a Jaredite time
fitting. There is not any real dates giveing throughout Moroni's very brief
and small abridgment of Ether's abridgment of the history of the Jaredites.
Still there are points, times and dates of interest to be discussed in
relationship to the Jaredites which otherwise just go uncovered. From the time
of the days of Peleg and Babel to when the Mulekites find only Coriantumr
alive at the very site at which the 'first land'. So while there is no
detailed dating, there is a time perspective and events fitting and
applications to the time of the Jaredites in Part 4
that otherwise go largely unconsidered. One of these answers the long debated
question, was the flood of Noah a world wide universal flood?
Now as to the three Appendixes, there are two times in the Book of Mormon
when the Nephite records separates into two parallel event records. One is
the times of the three kings, Zeniff, Noah and Lemhi with the three kings
Mosiah I, Benjamin, and Mosiah II.
Appendix 1 attempt to
put the events of these two Nephite groups together to test just how they
fit with each other. One question is, just how did Lemhi's explores miss
Zarahemla and why?
Appendix 2 considers the parallel times of
Alma the Younger as the Chief Judge and then Ministering Missionary Prophet
with the 'same time' events of the sons of Mosiah in the land of Nephi. In
running this parallel assessment, many cause and effect bits of information
come out including how the fate of the believers being burned at Ammoniah is
a particial fulfillment of the prophecies of Abinadi. And there is also a
'hidden' unrecorded and undisclosed strategum during the was of King
Amlici and Alma and the Lamanites. This among other things such as even a
discussion of the mapping of the land as given by Mormon in Alma 22.
Now Appendix 3, though
not directly taken from the Book of Mormon, does relate to the Book of Mormon
Chronology in that the Biblical time table of Jeremiah during the days of
king Zedekiah applies directly. And thus a presentation which sets that out,
particularly one which correctly positions the various related chapter of
Jeremiah is proper chronological order seems most appropriate. Not all
theologians attempt to unscrable the Jeremiah chapters. Some even use them
as presented however unreasonable and twisted it makes their accounting of
Jeremiah and Zedekiah's time frame. But those dedicated scholars of Biblical
Chronology, particularly in relation to the book of Jeremiah, are in agreement.
The chapters of Jeremiah, particularly those converning Jeremiah in the days
of King Zedekiah are out of order. Those this appendix places in order and
gives Jeremiah's story during the time and days of king Zedekiah in a proper
sequence. Though there are many attempts of unintanglement, I will pretty
much base mine upon that reached by J. Barong Payne, and particularly only
those chapters which are the Zedekiah related chapters.
Finally, perhaps the most critical reason for a need of an updated parallel
assessment of the Book of Mormon Chronology is the fact that the book is
a greatly abridged record and needs to be read with the consideration of
bringing it back to a real true life perspective. You see, Lehi just did
not have 'a question' he presented to the Lord on Sunday, had further
instruction and revelation on Monday, went out to call the Jews to repentance
on Tuesday, raised the anger of the Jewish leadship on Wednesday, for the
the Lord to need to warn him to depart from Jerusalem on Thursday, prepare
for the Jewish Sabbath on Friday, keep the Sabbath on Saturday, pack up his
goods for their escape the next Sunday, depart into the wilderness and
journery on Monday through Thursday, and thus arrive in the valley of
Lemuel on Friday to once again prepare for the Sabbath and keep it in the
valley of Lemuel on that next Sabbath day on Saturday. I know that is
an exaggeration, but often that is how the abridged Book of Mormon is read
and applied. Two weeks and Lehi is in the valley of Lemuel. Two more weeks
and they have obtained the plates of brass. Two more weeks and they have
brought the family of Ishmael out of Jerusalem. Two more weeks and they have
married the daughters of Ishmael and are ready to depart the valley of Lemuel
to go to that first land of Bountiful. The abridged record may read that
quickly, but I assure you in real life time IT DID NOT HAPPEN LIKE THAT!