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Interpreting Interpreter
Like Unto Ammon

This post is a summary of the article ““Behold, He Was a Man Like unto Ammon”: Mormon’s Use of ʾmn-related Terminology in Praise of Moroni in Alma 48” by Matthew L. Bowen in Volume 58 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship. All of the articles may be seen at An introduction to the Interpreting Interpreter series is available at


The Takeaway

Bowen argues that the comparison between Captain Moroni and Ammon in Alma 48 could leverage the terms "faithful," "firm," "faith," and "verily," all of which include the sound ‘mn in Hebrew, to strengthen the connection between these prophetic figures.


The Summary

In this article, Matthew L. Bowen provides another possible example of the use of wordplay in the Book of Mormon, this one focused on the comparison made by Mormon between Ammon and Captain Moroni in Alma 48:18. This wordplay relies on Hebrew terminology using the sound ‘mn, including "to be faithful" (e.g., neʾĕmānîm), "firm" (neʾĕmān or yēʾāmēn), "in the faith" (beʾĕmûnat), and "verily" (or surely; amēn), all of which may be a meaningful sound match for the word "Ammon."

Though there are other possibilities worth discussing, the term Ammon itself may mean "faith" in Hebrew, and the Book of Mormon often associates the people of Ammon, and the persons of both Ammon and Captain Moroni with strength of faith. The language of faith appears to permeate descriptions of Moroni, particularly as someone faithful to his covenants, and to the broader covenant made by Lehi. As Bowen notes: ‘This "faith" was far more than an abstract belief…it was the consistent, reliable, durative performance of covenant obligations that formed the basis for a relationship of trust’. This kind of faith aligns well with Bowen’s conclusion, when he says:

"Ammon, whose name, life and mission…forever changed Lamanite and Nephite history (see Ether 12:15) thus becomes the highwater mark of Nephite faithfulness that Moroni manages to match. The Moroni-Ammon comparison, with its preparatory ‘mn rhetoric, helps us more fully appreciate just how much Mormon loved and lionized both men."


The Reflection

As with many of Bowen’s other proposals, he provides here an interesting evidence base for repeated use of wordplay in the Book of Mormon, one that would’ve been much more meaningful for those who heard the words spoken anciently, rather than the readers who often have to depend on the words as they read in their head them today. Reading the words of scripture has its own power, as we’re discovering now that my kids are old enough to be confident reading straight from their quadruple combinations. To have that power further strengthened by the poetry, rhythm, and rhyme of the Book of Mormon text—I suspect that would be a different experience entirely, and one that, in this case, would help us strength and deepen our faith in Christ, like unto both Ammon and Captain Moroni.

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