There are 3 thoughts on “On the Dating of Moroni 8-9”.

  1. I have always felt that there had to be a number of years between the two letters. I’ve never tried to plot it all out (good job on that), but the tone of the two letters is so different. It seems very unlikely that the atrocities described in chapter 9 were only separated by months from the concerns about infant baptism expressed in chapter 8. Really, would people raping and cannibalizing have a great need to be set straight about infant baptism? Not likely! In chapter 8, Mormon is settling a point of Church doctrine, so there must have been a Church that cared about the issue (and enough members to have taken sides on the matter). I seriously doubt that there was enough of a Church around when the events described in chapter 9 occurred–and if it did exist, infant baptism would have been the least of their concerns! Your placement of the two letters 30 years apart makes much more sense to me.
    Thank you for the article–so many things to think about!

  2. I appreciate this article and thank for the time put into it. I have always wanted to try to determine a time frame for the two letters as they do strike me as coming from different times.
    One of the criterion used for reducing possible time frames concerns the reference to Mormon potentially needing to “go out” to battle. This was translated into a criterion that it must have been written during a period of offensive warfare. Footnote 12 is used to justify this unwarranted assumption.
    First, “going out” generally was used to engage in warfare in general–often on the defensive. In generally meant the tactical transfer of forces from a base to a point of combat.
    Second, even if the term were only used for offensive actions, there is a mismatch between the strategic and the tactical levels of war. Wars or campaigns may be on the strategic defensive and still have plenty of offensive tactical actions and those on the strategic offensive may have plenty of defensive tactical action. “Going out” to battle need not mean for strategic offensive campaigns. For example, the movement of forces from central population centers to border fortifications could easily come under the format “go out” to battle.
    Third, Mormon expected he would have to soon “go out” to combat. Frequently, military commanders expect to “go out” to fight but that doesn’t materialize.
    Looking up the references in the Old Testament we see in footnote 12, we see few are about going for an offensive campaign to take some possession, while many were clearly defensive in nature:
    Numbers 21:23 Sihon “went out” to protect its borders (not an offensive campaign)
    Deuteronomy 20:1 Relates a general principle of war regardless of whether offensive and defensive.
    Joshua 8:14 Ai “went out” to fight a defensive battle against Joshua and the host of Israel
    Judges 20:14, 20, 28, 31 The Benjaminites fought a defensive war against the rest of the tribes of Israel and were nearly destroyed. Despite this, versus 14 and 31 were the Benjaminites going out to engage in combat in their defense (verses 20 and 28 were the Israelites going out to engage in offensive war to defeat the Benjaminites)
    1 Samuel 4:1 The Israelites went out to defend against a Philistine attack
    2 Samuel 18:6 David’s army went out to suppress a rebellion
    1 Kings 8:44; 2 Chronicles 6:34 Part of Solomon’s prayer on the occasion of the Ark of the Covenant being brought to the new Temple in Jerusalem. This is a request for the Lord to protect his armies when they fight under whatever circumstances.
    2 Kings 9:21; 2 Chronicles 22:7 King Joram of Israel “went out” to protect his kingdom from the advance of Jehu who would destroy the royal family, declare himself king (he was anointed by one of Elisha’s “sons of the porfets”) and be killed himself.
    1 Chronicles 14:8 David “went out” to defend his kingdom from a Philistine attack
    2 Chronicles 14:10 King Asa of Judah “went out” to defend against the invasion by Zerah the Ethiopian who, with a million Egyptians “went out” against Judah by invading Judah (see the previous verse)–these two verses have both a strategic offensive meaning and defensive one.
    2 Chronicles 20:17 “men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir” invaded Judah. A prophet named Jahaziel stated to King Jehoshaphat and the assembly that the army should go out the next day. But also promised there would be no fighting.
    2 Chronicles 35:20 Necho King of Egypt “went out” against Carchemish in a strategic offensive campaign. King Josiah “went out” to fight Necho in a blocking action and not on the offensive.
    Most of the references have nothing to do with the strategic offensive (a few do), but it is a general expression for going off to war.

  3. Good essay. It has always seemed likely to me that Mormon was in some position of authority in the Nephite church. The prohibition against preaching would likely be just a prohibition against missionary work, not a prohibition against ministering to what faithful saints were left. Thus, Moroni 7 would seem to be to be the kind of sermon Mormon would have given to the Saints during one of their earlier periods of peace–that 14 year period, for instance.
    Since Mormon had custody of the plates, and was clearly a high ranking Nephite official of some kind, I would suggest he had a high rank in the church too… especially since he was receiving revelation. It would be hard for me to think that the Lord would have a different leader of the Church than the one who had custody and responsibility for the sacred records.
    His one recorded sermon is like a general conference talk. The Three Nephites visit him. His military leadership is clearly inspired, considering that when he is in charge, he always wins, until that last war, and even then when he repents of his oath the Nephites achieve success for a short time.
    If Mormon wasn’t the prophet and church leader, I don’t know who could have been. I feel certain that Mormon was the church leader, and he didn’t just stay silent for 15-20 years. He was forbidden from doing the “Alma going to Ammonihah or the Zoramites to call them to repentance” bit, but I am sure he still ministered to the faithful, and that Moroni 7 was one of those experiences.

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