Prophets and Theologies: The Beginnings of an Approach

By Roger R. Keller

Roger R. Keller, “Prophets and Theologies: The Beginnings of an Approach,” in Book of Mormon Authors: Their Words and Messages (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1996), 1–19.

Prophets and Theologies: The Beginnings of an Approach

Initially, the foundation text for this research was the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. The text was marked to segregate the various authors. From this, computer texts of the authors’ sermons, narratives, and editorial work were created, thereby separating the material by both author and genre. [1] However, as a foundation for more rigorous work, it was decided that the 1829 printer’s manuscript should become the text upon which this and other studies would be based, [2] because it is the oldest complete manuscript of the Book of Mormon available. This manuscript has been used by various scholars interested in extracting statistical data relevant to the Book of Mormon. Several scholars have divided the text into its constituent genres and authors, and there is now general agreement among such scholars on those divisions. [3] Thus, we begin from this base.

Choosing the Authors

To determine word usage within the writing of an individual author, a text sample must have sufficient words to lead one to reasonable conclusions about the most important words used. Thus, no author with fewer than one thousand words of text is treated in this study. Throughout this book, the term author will refer to the originator of the words in question. [4] Authors identified by Rencher and others who are included in the pool for this study, along with the designations used for some of them throughout the book, are listed in figure 1:

Figure 1

Abinadi

Alma, son of Alma (Alma 2)

Ammon

Amulek

Angel who spoke to Nephi 1 (Angel)

Benjamin

Capt. Moroni (Moroni 1)

Enos

Father Lehi (Lehi)

Helaman, son of Alma (Helaman)

Isaiah

Jacob

Jesus

Lord in Isaiah (Lord-Isa)

Mormon

Moroni, son of Mormon (Moroni 2)

Mosiah

Nephi, son of Lehi (Nephi 1)

Nephi, son of Helaman (Nephi 2)

Samuel

The Father (Father)

The Lord (Lord)

Zeniff

Zenos

The words of these twenty-four individual authors account for 93 percent of the Book of Mormon. The remaining 7 percent comes from persons whose contributions are too small to consider. [5] Two of the twenty-four author texts are marginal in length, since Enos has only 997 words and the Father only 944. Most of the material from the authors in figure 1 is found in the form of sermons or didactic material. However, three of the authors write so extensively that it was possible to separate their words by genre. Therefore, Mormon’s writings are separated into third-person narrative (Mormon:N3) in which he tells a story about others, first-person narrative (Mormon: Nl) wherein he tells a story in which he has been personally involved, and sermonic material (Mormon:S). Similarly, Nephi 1 is separated into first-person narrative (Nephi 1:N1) and sermonic material (Nephi 1:S); and Moroni 2, the son of Mormon, is divided into third-person narrative (Moroni2:N3) and sermonic material (Moroni2:S). [6]

It is also important to realize that the texts from some of the above persons are not found in one continuous passage in the Book of Mormon but are drawn from various parts of it. For example, Mormon’s sermonic material (Mormon:S) may be found in several places: Words of Mormon, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, 3 Nephi, 4 Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. Likewise, Nephi’s sermonic material (Nephi 1:S) is interspersed among the words of Lehi, the Angel, the Lord, Jacob, and Isaiah. Thus, any consistencies in word usage that appear within an author’s writings do not exist simply because we are dealing with a connected text. In reality, we see authors like Nephi (Nephi 1), Mormon, and Moroni (Moroni 2) interjecting their thoughts at various points into the narratives they are editing. Normally, one would expect this patchwork-quilt effect to diminish individual uniqueness. However, when unique word-usage surfaces consistently, it supports the argument that there are indeed unique individuals at work and that their personalities have not been eliminated through either the editing or translation processes of the Book of Mormon.

Word Clusters

As we began to look at the theologically, culturally, and historically significant words in the various strands of the Book of Mormon text, it was evident that many of these words appeared less than the minimal five times normally desired by convention for statistical accuracy. [7] Consequently, something needed to be done to increase our ability to measure the importance of the various concepts that interested us. Thus, word clusters were created to increase the number of events available for comparing stated author interests. The thirty-four clusters in figure 2 were therefore created for this study: [8]

Figure 2

Agriculture

Ancient Near East

Animals

Body

Christology

Church

Contention

Creation

Directions

Editing

Emotion (negative)

Emotion (positive)

Eschatology

Ethics

Evil

Extras

Family

Gathering

God

Government

Judicial

Military

Money

Nomadic

Numbers

Poor

Prophecy

Revelation

Riches

Sacramental

Slavery

Society

Spirituality

Troubles

Once the major word-cluster categories were established, related words were gathered under them. For example, words like Amos, Cain, Jeremiah, Moses, Syria, etc., were collected under the category of Ancient Near East. There were 109 such Ancient Near East words, and they were used 1,179 times in the Book of Mormon. Under the category of Agriculture, words such as Crops, Fields, Grain, Root, Sow, Barley, etc., were collected, and these 60 words were used 578 times in the Book of Mormon. Under Christology, words such as Atone, Christ, Jesus, Redeem, Savior, Messiah, etc., were collected; we identified 58 Christology words with a total of 1,671 occurrences. This process was carried out for each of the clusters, thereby providing word pools from which to work as word use was compared from author to author.

Author Uniqueness

Example of Methodology. Two initial steps were taken to determine whether differences could be detected between the various authors based on the word clusters. First, each word in each cluster was counted within each author. Thus we know, for example, that in the Ancient Near East cluster, Mormon, in his 6,233 sermonic words (Mormon:S), uses the word Abraham once, while Nephi 1, son of Lehi, in his 17,982 sermonic words (Nephi 1:S), uses it five times. Second, all the occurrences of words within a given cluster were totaled by author, and each cluster’s occurrences per thousand words of author text were determined. This latter figure was then divided by the cluster’s occurrences per thousand words of the full Book of Mormon text, giving a normalized number [9] which could be used for comparison between authors. A normalized number of 1.0 would represent a use rate for the cluster at exactly the average rate that words from that cluster are used throughout the complete Book of Mormon.

Figure 3 shows the results of the assessment of the Ancient Near East word cluster. In order of appearance are (1) the author, (2) the length of the text attributed to the individual, [10] (3) the number of times words from the cluster appear in an author, (4) the occurrences per thousand words of author text, (5) the occurrences per thousand words of Book of Mormon text, and (6) the normalized number.

Figure 3: Ancient Near East Cluster

Author

Length

Number

Per 1000,

Author Text

Per 1000,

BofM Text

Normalized

Number

Abinadi

Alma 2

Ammon

Amulek

Angel

Benjamin

Enos

Father

Helaman

Isaiah

Jacob

Jesus

Lehi

Lord

Lord-Isa

Mormon:Nl

Mormon:N3

Mormon:S

Moroni 1

Moroni2:N3

Moroni2:S

Mosiah

Nephi 1:N1

Nephi 1:S

Nephi 2

Other

Samuel

Zeniff

Zenos

2,806

20,227

2,727

3,182

2,252

4,221

997

944

5,600

7,951

8,491

10,213

4,689

11,507

4,193

4,613

86,669

6,233

3,074

11,542

6,736

1,180

10,238

17,982

2,228

18,296

3,078

1,824

4,261

19

37

2

6

40

4

0

21

5

128

73

67

34

99

80

5

82

45

4

12

37

0

51

195

17

63

2

3

14

6.77

1.83

.733

1.89

17,8

.948

0.00

22.2

.893

16.1

8.60

6.56

7.25

8.60

19.1

1.08

.946

7.22

1.30

1.04

5.49

0.00

4.98

10.8

7.63

3.44

.650

1.64

3.29

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

4.38

1.55

0.42

0.17

0.43

4.06

0.22

0.00

5.07

0.20

3.68

1.96

1.50

1.66

1.96

4.36

0.25

0.22

1.65

0.30

0.24

1.25

0.00

1.14

2.47

1.74

0.79

0.15

0.37

0.75

To illustrate the value of the categories for providing distinction between authors, note that Lehi used words from the Ancient Near East cluster thirty-four times. The number of times per thousand that these words occurred in Lehi’s text of 4,689 words was 7.25. To normalize this number to the average overall Book of Mormon use rate, this 7.25 was divided by 4.38, the number of times per thousand that the Ancient Near East cluster words occurred in the 269,309 words in the Book of Mormon. [11] This equation resulted in a normalized ratio of 1.66 for Ancient Near East words in Lehi’s text.

In contrast, the Angel of the Lord who spoke to Nephi, Lehi’s son, used Ancient Near East words 40 times, with a ratio per thousand of 17.8. When normalized through dividing 17.8 by 4.38, the resulting ratio is 4.06. Thus, while Lehi uses words related to the Ancient Near East cluster half again above the average use in the whole Book of Mormon (1.66 versus 1.00), the Angel of the Lord uses them in excess of four times the average (4.06 versus 1.00). Clearly, there is a substantial difference between the two authors in the frequency with which they use words from the Ancient Near East cluster.

On the other end of the spectrum, of the 109 possible words in the Ancient Near East cluster, neither Mosiah nor Enos, in their cumulative total of 2,177 words, use any. Benjamin, on the other hand, does use some of the terms a total of four times, giving a 0.948 use rate per thousand words of his text. His normalized use rate becomes 0.22, or approximately one-fifth of the average Book of Mormon use rate. Thus, while one can determine who most emphasizes a given cluster, one can also ascertain which authors have the least emphasis on it. Clearly, Benjamin and Mosiah—father and son—do not use the Ancient Near East words. They are removed from that culture by approximately 500 years. Even Enos, who is only 150 to 200 years distant from the Ancient Near East environment, displays no emphasis on this cluster, although his small text sample reduces the likelihood of a clear conclusion about his usage. However, we can suggest that the language of these three authors no longer utilized Ancient Near East terms, in contrast to Lehi and Nephi’s Angel, by whom the terminology was utilized.

If one examines the Ancient Near East cluster, there are generally no surprises concerning who uses the cluster words. The authors who are most distant in time from the Ancient Near East context use the words of this group the least, while those nearest in time use them the most. However, there are two exceptions. The first of these is Nephi, son of Helaman (Nephi 2), who has a normalized use ratio of 1.74, even higher than that of Lehi. His words from this cluster, followed by the number of times they appear in his text, are Abraham (5), Egyptians (1), Isaiah (1), Israelites (1), Jeremiah (3), Messiah (1), Moses (3), and Zedekiah (2). The other exception is Mormon in his sermonic material (Mormon:S), with a use rate of 1.65. His cluster words are Abraham (1), Adam (1), Amen (5), Gentiles (10), Israel (8), Jacob (9), Jews (5), Joseph (4), and Moses (2). Clearly, these two writers chose different words to use from within the cluster. [12] The probable explanation for Nephi 2’s and Mormon’s interest in the Ancient Near East cluster is that both looked back over history and tied Nephite history to God’s dealings with the ancient Israelites. Thus, this preliminary examination accentuates the fact that a study which begins with numerical comparisons must be augmented by a literary and contextual examination to determine why authors’ word uses vary. The following chapters will do precisely that.

The comparative process just described for the Ancient Near East cluster has been carried out on all authors and across all clusters. Clear differences have been observed, some of which will be identified later in this chapter.

Measurements of Cluster Variations. The following material will explain, in rather technical language, how the clusters were compared numerically. For those not versed in some of the statistical language, it is important to note that the statistical work simply demonstrates, in numerical terms, that significant differences exist in the way various authors used the word clusters which have been examined in this research.

A set of preliminary statistical calculations shows measurable differences in cluster use between some of the longer Book of Mormon author/genre texts. The differences between these texts are larger than would be expected, if only random or normal statistical variation were the sole variant being observed. Thus the question being investigated is: Can these differences be explained without concluding that there are author-specific shifts in the word-cluster use rate?

When the authors who wrote more than twelve thousand words were examined by dividing their writings into two-thousand-word segments, it was concluded that each of the authors’ word clusters were used essentially uniformly across the six or more two-thousand word subgroups. [13] This shows reasonable stability within each author. By contrast, when the writings of one author/genre were compared against another, comparatively larger differences were measured.

Measurements were made between author/genre groups by counting the number of t-test null-hypothesis rejections [14] (alpha = 0.05) [15] that occurred as each pair of author/genre texts were compared for thirty of the studied word clusters. [16] For example, as shown in figure 4a, when each of the thirty clusters of Mormon:N3 is compared to the corresponding clusters of AIma2:S, there are eight rejections of the thirty comparisons. Similarly, when the thirty clusters of Moroni2:N3 are compared with the clusters of Jacob: S, there are two rejections. Hence, figure 4a lists the number of hypothesis rejections for each of the author/genre tests for the nine authors who wrote at least six thousand words. From the comparisons reported in figure 4a, the number of rejections varies from zero to ten, and zero, one, two, or three seem sufficiently low that the two compared author/genres in each case may not be meaningfully different from each other. Thus, four or more rejections would increasingly demonstrate a greater likelihood that the distributions actually are different.

Some comparisons of the number of null-hypothesis rejections measured by comparing the different author and genre texts for thirty word clusters (figures 4a and 4b).

Figure 4a

 

 

Mormon:N3

Alma2:S

Nephi1:S

Mormon2:N3

Nephi1:N1

Isaiah:S

Jacob:S

Mormon:S

Moroni2:S

Mormon:N3

-

8

10

3

7

9

5

4

4

Alma2:S

-

-

4

7

5

6

0

0

0

Nephil:S

-

-

-

2

3

4

2

0

0

Moroni2:N3

-

-

-

-

2

1

2

1

2

Nephi1N:1

-

-

-

-

-

4

3

1

2

Isaiah:S

-

-

-

-

-

-

3

1

3

Jacob:S

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

0

0

Mormon:S

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

0

Moroni2:S

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Figure 4b

 

Benjamin:S

Helaman:N1

Lehi:S

Mormon:N1

Zenos:S

Abinadi:S

Amulek:S

Angel:S

Moroni1:S

Nephi2:S

Samuel:S

Mormon:N3

4

0

4

2

3

6

6

6

0

3

4

Alma2:S

2

3

2

4

5

6

4

5

2

4

5

Nephi1:S

3

1

2

2

4

0

3

5

3

1

3

Moroni2:N3

4

2

6

2

3

5

6

4

4

3

4

Nephi1:N1

6

2

5

8

4

6

6

7

4

3

4

As can be seen from the word-cluster tests using the vertical column headed Isaiah:S in figure 4a as an example, four or more rejections likely indicate a meaningful difference between Isaiah and several of the larger Book of Mormon author/genre texts. In figure 4b, eleven of the smaller Book of Mormon author/genre texts show four, five, six, seven, and eight rejections when compared against the largest author/genre texts, also likely indicating that meaningful differences exist between the word clusters used. [17]

In figures 4a and 4b the most striking separations occur when genres are different and when the comparative calculational uncertainty is reduced due to the larger text lengths. Nevertheless, when Mormon:Nl is compared to Nephil:Nl, there is produced a sum of eight rejections (figure 4b), clearly a large difference in word-cluster word use between these two Book of Mormon authors, even when written in the same genre. Other rejection numbers are very large, some being across genres or in texts which have a smaller number of words. For example, when Alma2:S is compared to Mormon:N3, a sum of ten rejections is measured, indicating an immense difference in the rate of word-cluster use rates. Likewise, a sum of seven rejections between Nephil:Nl and Mormon:N3 indicates a clear difference.

In summary, even though there is yet much refinement necessary in the tools being used, clear differences are seen between individual author uses of the thirty measured word clusters, indicating important differences in word use.

Authors and Word Clusters

Nephi 1 and Alma 2. Through use of wordprint, John L. Hilton has objectively confirmed that the texts of Nephi 1:S and Alma 2 have clearly measured patterns which are indicative of different authors. [18] Thus, the sermonic works of these two authors seem to be good places to explore, initially, the differences among the word clusters used by Book of Mormon authors. The question to be asked is: Do two authors who have been shown to be different by wordprint also show differences in the word clusters which they use? On the basis of word clusters, figure 5 shows the priorities found under each author. The number represents the normalized comparative value described under “Author Uniqueness” above.

From figure 5, one can see that there are clear differences in word-cluster priorities in each writer. Note the almost complete inversion of priorities between the two authors. Nephi 1, for example, is a product of the Ancient Near East; not surprisingly, he uses Near East terminology in his sermons and teachings as a frame of reference through which to express his thoughts. Alma the Younger, on the other hand, is five hundred years removed from the land of Israel and its culture; consequently, he does not use such terms extensively. [19]

Figure 5

Nephi 1:S

Alma 2

2.9 Ancient Near East

2.2 Gathering

1.8 Prophecy

1.6 Editing

1.5 Xology

1.4God

1.4 Creation

1.2 Spiritual

l.l Eschatology

1.1 Evil

0.9 Ethics

0.8 Slavery

0.7 Trouble

2.5 Eschatology

1.8Spiritual

1.7Slavery

1.7 Ethics

1.6 Xology

1.6 Trouble

1.5 Evil

1.4 God

0.8 Prophecy

0.6 Creation

0.4 Gathering

0.4 Ancient Near East

0.3 Editing

It is interesting that the Gathering cluster appears in Nephi 1. He uses eight [20] of the twelve words in the cluster with emphasis on both scattering and gathering. Since Nephi 1 is one who is a participant in the scattering of Israel, it should not be surprising to see him concerned with these concepts.

It is also clear that Nephi 1 is concerned with the language of prophecy, using such words as Prophecies (10), Prophecy (4), Prophesied (6), Prophet (22), and Prophets (22). Further, he uses Account (18), Book (28), Books (2), Record (23), Records (10), Write (22), and Written (41) from the words composing the Editing cluster. Similarly, Christological issues seem important to him because he uses such words as Christ (51), Jesus (9), Lamb (22), Redeemer (13), Salvation (4), and Spirit (50). Similarly, the clusters God and Creation are particularly important to him.

Thus one might profile Nephi 1, when he preaches, as one who is looking forward to the coming of Christ. He talks of prophets and of the need to prepare a record of the acts of God. He conveys this using the language of the Ancient Near East. While this broad characterization will not surprise anyone familiar with the Book of Mormon, the words which Nephi uses under each of the major categories are uniquely his.

In contrast, Alma 2 uses different language. The stated concern which is held in common with Nephi 1 is that of Christology, but the words Alma 2 used to express his Christological concerns are different, in many instances, from those used by Nephi. For example, Alma’s Christological language uses Atone (2), Mercy (27), Redemption (17), Resurrection (34), Sanctified (3), and Washed (3), in addition to Christ (33) and Jesus (10). Thus the work of the Savior is characterized differently, linguistically, by each author, even though they both speak generally of the same events.

Alma 2 seems most concerned with concepts included in the Eschatology cluster. This arises from his use of words like Endless (5), Eternal (12), Everlasting (15), Forever (15), Last (17), and Restored (16). It is clear from context that these words do not all necessarily imply “last things.” [21] However, they serve to segregate concepts, and future studies could involve the examination of the differences in word choices between authors in the various clusters. Undoubtedly we will see differences in other clusters similar to those differences observed between Alma 2 and Nephi 1 in their Christological language.

Alma 2 appears to be deeply concerned with spiritual things (normalized number of 1.8), and only one author—Mormon:S (normalized number of 2.4)—seems to be more concerned. Of the sixty-five words in the Spirituality word cluster, Alma 2 uses thirty-nine of them, while Mormon uses twenty-eight. Thus, while Alma 2 places stress on the words Believe (21), Faith (41), Humble (19), Repent (26), Repentance (25), Righteous (11), Soul (39), Souls (21), and Worship (7), embellishing them with a variety of other words related to spirituality, Mormon’s Spirituality cluster includes Believe (49), Faith (62), Repent (35), and Repentance (39), but with a stronger stress on Charity (10), a word Alma 2 uses only once.

Alma 2 uses concepts related to the Slavery cluster through the use of Bondage (9), Bonds (4), Captivity (11), and Chains (7). In like manner he focuses, in the Ethics cluster, on the words Commandments (29) and Justice (21), with additional words used one or two times to round out the theme. In the Evil cluster, Alma 2 uses Abominations (8), Devil (14), Evil (26), Iniquities (9), Iniquity (13), Sins (30), Wicked (8), and Wickedness (13). Beyond these, he uses fifty other words from the 137 words in the cluster. One also observes that the principal words which Alma 2 uses from the Evil cluster are relatively general words. [22]

From what has been said above, it is appropriate to suggest that Alma 2 and Nephi 1 are two very different individuals with unique word usage. Even in those areas where they use the same cluster at a similar normalized rate, such as Christology, their word use reflects their differences and thus their uniqueness.

Mormon and Moroni 2

Mormon is especially interesting because his fingerprints are found throughout most of the Book of Mormon, and also because he is the only author who writes extensively in three separate genres. Thus, it is possible to examine Mormon not only against other authors, but also against himself. In addition, it is interesting to examine Moroni 2 in his sermonic mode to see how his word use either coincides with or differs from that of his father. Figure 6 outlines the four strands which will concern us in this section.

Figure 6

Moroni2:S

Mormon:S

Mormon:N1

Mormon:N3

3.2 Xology

2.0 Sacramental

1.8 Spiritual

1.8 God

1.8 Eschatology

3.2 Xology

2.8 Gathering

2.4 Spiritual

2.1 Eschatology

2.0 Sacramental

3.5 Numbers

2.3 Editing

2.2 Directions

2.0 Military

1.5 Neg. emotions

1.8 Money

1.8 Directions

1.8 Contention

1.6 Military

1.6 Government

1.5 Numbers

Moroni2:S reflects Moroni 2’s personal word use, and a comparison with Mormon will be instructive concerning the similarities and differences between father and son. In contrast to a comparison between two persons, the differences represented between Mormon’s genres are also striking. Mormon:S is Mormon’s didactic or sermonic material and thus reflects things nearest to his heart. Mormon:Nl is material in which Mormon speaks about those things of which he has firsthand knowledge, while Mormon:N3 reflects Mormon as he edits material and is therefore dependent upon a source for his information. From these strands, we can learn not only what word clusters were most often reflected in Mormon, but we may gain a glimpse of the way in which sources influenced Mormon’s use of language.

In Mormon:S, Christological words are dominant. Of the fiftyeight Christological words he uses sixteen, [23] with the dominant ones by far being Christ (57) and Jesus (23). Moroni2:S also has Christological language at the top of his word usage, and Christ (48) and Jesus (21) are the pivotal words, although Christ is used with less relative frequency than in Mormon:S. [24] By contrast, of the fifty-eight words, Moroni2:S uses seventeen, [25] but there are fourteen differences between Mormon2:S and Moroni2:S in the words used from this cluster. This suggests that the central emphasis on Jesus and Christ is imparted from father to son, but the son had his own style and expressed himself through his own choice of additional words.

Mormon:S also has a high use of terms related to the Gathering cluster, higher, in fact, than any other author in the Book of Mormon. The pivotal word is Remnant (12), in contrast to the scattering/gathering language of Nephil:S discussed above. Interestingly, Remnant is of no significance in Moroni 2’s writings. However, there are many similarities between father and son when it comes to the Spirituality cluster. Both Mormon:S and Moroni2:S use approximately one-third of the possible sixty-five words in the Spirituality cluster, with Mormon:S using twenty-eight [26] and Moroni2:S using twenty-two. [27] The dominant word for both is Faith, but Moroni 2 uses it more frequently than does Mormon. Mormon adds emphasis with the words Believe, Charity, Repent, and Repentance. Moroni 2 also uses Charity, [28] but less frequently than does Mormon. Moroni 2 stresses no additional words. Both Mormon and Moroni 2, by use of multiple words relating to Prayer, seem to express concern for this aspect of spiritual life.

The Eschatology cluster appears important in both authors. Here the language is basically similar. Mormon:S uses ten [29] of the possible eighteen words and Moroni2:S uses only six, [30] but the most important words for each seem to be Eternal, Last, and Forever. Finally, both Mormon and Moroni 2 use words from the Sacramental word group. Mormon clearly peaks on the word Baptism, while Moroni 2 uses more words but shows no particular favorite.

In contrast to the above, in both Mormon:Nl and Mormon:N3 we see the historian at work. In Mormon:Nl, Mormon seems to be concerned that his readers understand the historical context. He sets the stage by telling how many people were involved in events, where things happened, what the military situation was, and why he wrote the things that he did. In Mormon:N3, Mormon appears to be influenced by the material he is editing, yet he still seems to have had a concern that people know where things occurred (directions), what was happening with the government, and how much time had passed. Clearly, he reflects the periods of contention and military activity. His high use of monetary terms is in contrast to other authors. He is the only author who uses such terms to any significant degree. Mormon: N1 and Mormon:N3 reflect no significant theological language use. Thus, Mormon:S stands in sharp contrast to these two.

In summary, Mormon clearly uses different word groups when he writes or speaks for himself than when he is narrating or editing. When his editorial work is divided into twelve-thousand-word blocks, it becomes clear that the material he is editing causes his normal language use to fluctuate significantly at times. [31] It is also evident that there are similarities between Mormon and Moroni 2, yet it is possible to identify the sorts of differences that one would expect to find in thelanguage use of two different individuals, no matter how close their relationship might be.

Similar analyses could be done for all the authors used in this study, but what has been shown so far is sufficient to suggest the possibilities of the methodology. It might, however, be interesting to see the dominant word categories of authors not considered above. Figure 7, below, lists those clusters by author which show a normalized use value at least half again as great as the normal use in the Book of Mormon, i.e., 1.5 or greater.

An examination of the authors in figure 7 and the clusters which are prominent under each author clearly demonstrates that there are differences among the writers in their word use. There is still much to be done in defining what those differences are. The abbreviation ANE stands for Ancient Near East.

Conclusions

In this chapter, I have shown that the methodology described above permits the separation of Book of Mormon authors on the basis of their unique word use. These are preliminary suggestions. The study only tells us what word clusters, and what words within those clusters, are used by the various authors, but it tells us nothing about how they are used. Thus, the next logical step would be to study select words in the literary contexts in which the authors used them. It is on this issue that the following chapters will focus. Those chapters will more sharply delineate the differences between the authors.

Figure 7

Abinadi

3.7 Xology

3.7 Prophecy

2.8 Eschatology

2.0 Evil

1.9 Slavery

1.8 Ethics

1.7 Body

1.6 God

1.5 ANE

Ammon

3.7 Eschatology

2.5 Agriculture

2.4 Sacramental

2.0 Gathering

1.9 Church

Amulek

3.8 Eschatology

2.6 Trouble

2.6 Revelation

2.4 Sacramental

2.1 Judicial

1.6 Spiritual

1.6 Evil

Angel

4.6 Editing

4.4 ANE

3.4 Slavery

3.2 Xology

3.0 Church

2.8 Eschatology

2.0 Riches

1.8 Numbers

1.8 Evil

1.5 God

1.5 Body

Benjamin

5.2 Poor

3.8 Ethics

1.5 Riches

Enos

7.0 Animals

2.9 Nomadic

2.6 Pos. emotions

2.4 Agriculture

2.1 Editing

1.9 Neg. emotions

1.5 God

Father

4.4 ANE

2.0 Societal

2.0 Sacramental

1.9 Evil

1.8 Church

1.6 Spiritual

Helaman

4.1 Military

2.1 Numbers

1.9 Societal

1.6 Nomadic

Isaiah

4.3 Animals

4.1 ANE

3.1 Agriculture

2.7 Poor

2.7 Creation

2.0 Neg. emotions

1.6 Societal

1.6 God

1.5 Slavery

1.5 Gathering

Jacob

3.2 Trouble

2.8 Eschatology

1.9 ANE

1.8 Ethics

1.7 Revelation

1.7Prophecy

1.7 Evil

1.6 Xology

1.6 God

1.5 Pos. emotions

Jesus

2.9 Sacramental

2.8 Animals

2.3 Poor

2.3 Family

2.2 Gathering

1.7 Ethics

1.6 ANE

Lehi

3.8 Eschatology

2.6 Slavery

2.5 Sacramental

1.7 Ethics

1.6 Trouble

1.6 ANE

Lord

2.1 Sacramental

2.1 Animals

2.0 ANE

1.6 Spiritual

1.6 Creation

1.5 Body

Lord-Isa

4.2 Poor

3.9 ANE

3.6 Animals

2.8 Body

2.5 Trouble

2.3 Neg. emotions

2.1 Creation

1.7 Slavery

1.6 Societal

1.5 Riches

Moroni 1

3.8 Slavery

2.5 Military

1.6 Govern

1,6 Pos. emotions

1.5Gathering

1.5 Ethics

Moroni2:N3

3,2 Animals

2.0 Sacramental

1.8 Spiritual

1.8 Eschatology

Mosiah

8.8 Judicial

4.5 Contention

3.3 Government

2.7 Evil

2.2 Ethics

1.8 Pos. emotions

NephiltNl

4.8 Nomadic

3.0 Editing

1.9 Family

1.8 Prophecy

1.7 ANE

Nephi 2

2.3 Prophecy

2.3 Judicial

2.1 Neg. emotions

1.9 ANE

1.8 Evil

Samuel

4.1 Revelation

2.9 Prophecy

1.8 Spiritual

1.8 Riches

1.5 Evil

1.5 Creation

Zeniff

5.2 Agriculture

3.3 Nomadic

3.2 Military

1.7 Ethics

1.6 Riches

1.6 Numbers

Zenos

23.0 Agriculture

3.9 Creation

2.4 Nomadic

2.1 Eschatology

1.5 Neg. emotions

Notes

[1] This book never could have been written without the assistance of John L, Hilton. He provided the computer and statistical expertise that I do not have. Thus, chapter 1 is the product of full cooperation between the two of us in terms of both the research and the writing. Each of us brought our different skills to the process. I provided the idea for and content of the word clusters, as well as the content analysis by author. John provided on computer disks the texts of the various authors’ words, a program that could search each author for the words of the clusters, and the skills to interpret, from a statistical standpoint, the results of the research. He also wrote another program that allowed me to search the various authors’ texts for the words found in the later chapters of this book.

[2] This text was taken from the original handwriting of the copyists of the printer’s manuscript with corrections for words which varied from existing sections of the dictation manuscript. Note that some of the spellings may vary from those in use today (e.g., baptizm).

[3] Alvin Rencher and Wayne Larsen of the BYU Department of Statistics, in conjunction with their work on wordprints, suggested initial author assignments. Others have reviewed and revised these suggestions and made some modifications. Further corrections were made during the preparation of the Book of Mormon Critical Text, and all of the above were finally reworked by Alvin Rencher. Based on this collaborative work, researchers in Book of Mormon studies have a generally accepted tool which is useful to all for author designations.

[4] John L, Hilton, “Listing of the (Salt Lake) Book of Mormon References for Passages of Major Authors and their Literary Forms, Plus Word Counts from the Text of the Printer’s Manuscript.” Unpublished paper, 23 September 1982, 1.

[5] Besides the 24 major authors, there are 106 other persons whose words are quoted less frequently.

[6] Hilton, “Summary of Word Counts from the Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon by Author and Literary Form.” Unpublished paper, 9 October 1982, Preface.

[7] When one is using the Xi-square statistic, it is not recommended that occurrences of less than five be used. This is the source of the above guideline.

[8] The words associated with each of the clusters, along with the number of times each word appears in the Book of Mormon, may be found in the Appendix. The words in the Extras cluster were words that seemed important, but at the moment we did not feel they fit into any of the established categories.

[9] This number provides a ratio between the number of times the words of a cluster appear per one thousand words of author text and the number of times the words of a cluster appear per one thousand words of Book of Mormon text. Thus, one can see the relative importance of the various word clusters in the whole of the Book of Mormon. Significant deviation from these normalized numbers delineates a greater or lesser interest on the part of an author in a particular cluster. For example, the occurrences per one thousand words of Book of Mormon text for the Ancient Near East cluster is 4.38. By contrast, this number for Animals is 0.87, for Christology is 6.0, for Church is 7.5, for Creation is 5.1, for Positive Emotions is 2.3, for Ethics is 1.9, etc. Clearly, animals are mentioned in passing, while Christology and Church are central issues in the Book of Mormon.

[10] Hilton, “Summary of Word Counts,” Preface. The “Length” listing in Figure 3 includes word counts only for the principal genres used by the major authors, i.e., Mormon, Moroni 2, and Nephi 1. Therefore, there are more words in their total texts than represented here when the words in their principal genres are totaled.

[11] A theoretical example of the way the various columns in figure 3 relate to one another may be helpful to the reader. Suppose that an author has a text length often thousand words and uses words from the Ancient Near East word cluster 50 times. Since there are ten thousand-word groups (10,000 divided by 1,000 equals 10), his use per thousand words of text is 5.00 (50 uses of the cluster divided by ten 1,000s). The Ancient Near East word cluster has a use rate of 4.38 per thousand words of Book of Mormon text (1,179 uses of Ancient Near East cluster words divided by 269.309 thousands of Book of Mormon words, since there are 269,309 words in the Book of Mormon, gives a 4.38 ratio for the Ancient Near East word cluster). When the 5.00 uses per thousand words of author text are divided by the 4.38 uses of the Ancient Near East cluster per Book of Mormon text, the normalized number of 1.14 is obtained, indicating that our theoretical author uses words from the group occasionally, but not at a particularly high level.

[12] The significance of the word choice differences within a cluster by various authors could be an area for future exploration.

[13] The exceptions to this will be discussed briefly below, particularly as they relate to Mormon’s editorial work. However, this is an area that will require further work and study, and only preliminary observations can be made in this study.

[14] The null-hypothesis is a common statistical procedure which presumes that there is no meaningful difference between the clusters in any two texts which are compared in the present study. If this statistical study shows that the difference between two compared texts is larger than we would normally expect in nineteen out of twenty trials, then the hypothesis fails because we measured a difference larger than would normally be expected, if the texts had actually been the same.

[15] That is, the probability of the two distributions being different is likely over 95 percent, if the distributions are approximately “normal.” As used here the hypothesis tests are more aptly employed as a descriptive comparison of “among author” variation to “within author” variation, rather than an inferential evidence of absolute difference.

[16] Word clusters Military, Societal, Christology, and Governmental were removed from the original thirty-four categories for this particular test, since in their present form they do not consistently discriminate across author/texts.

[17] It appears that our measurement techniques are not yet sensitive enough to provide a good separation between texts of the same genre, except for the two largest texts which provide improved comparative discrimination. Figures 4a and 4b show that many of the low rejection numbers occur when similar genres are compared between authors. For example, Jacob:S compared to Alma2:S does not separate clearly on the basis of rejections above the 95 percent probability, even though it is possible to identify significant word-use differences. So it is also with Mormon:S and Moroni2:S when compared to Alma2:S.

[18] Hilton, “On Verifying Wordprint Studies: Book of Mormon Authorship,” BYU Studies 30.3 (summer 1990): 89–108.

[19] The “Xology” abbreviation in figure 5 is not meant to be disrespectful. The “X” represents the Greek letter chi (X), the first letter in the Greek word “Christos,” Christ. Therefore, “Xology” is simply shorthand for “Christology.”

[20] Gather (2), Gathered (12), Gathereth (I), Remnant (9), Remnants (1), Restoration (3), Scattered (18), Scattering (1).

[21] One of the areas to be refined will be the word clusters themselves.

[22] Future work might be enhanced by separating this cluster into two clusters, i.e., one which contains general terms about evil and another which deals with evil acts.

[23] Ascended (1), Ascension (1), Atonement (2), Christ (57), Grace (3), Jesus (23), Mercies (3), Merciful (1), Mercy (4), Redeemer (2), Redemption (4). Remission (3), Resurrection (2), Salvation (2), Savior (4), Spirit (7).

[24] The normalized numbers for the use of Christ by the two authors are 9.1 for Mormon :S and 7.1 for Moroni2:S.

[25] Christ (48), Forgiven (2), Forgiveness (1), Grace (7), Jesus (21), Lamb (5), Merciful (3), Merits (I), Redeemed (2), Redemption (3), Remission (1), Resurrection (1), Salvation (1), Sanctified (1), Spirit (9), Transfigured (1), Washed (1).

[26] Believe (10), Believeth (1), Charity (10), Faith (26), Faithful (1), Humble (2), Lowliness (2), Lowly (3), Meek (3), Meekness (3), Praise (1), Praises (1), Pray (4), Prayer (2), Prayers (3), Prayeth (1), Praying (1), Repent (12), Repentance (8), Repented (3), Righteous (4), Righteous’ (1), Righteousness (1), Soul (4), Souls (2), Thanksgiving (1), Unbelief (2), Unbelieving (1).

[27] Believe (4), Believed (I), Believeth (2), Believing (1), Charity (6), Faith (43), Humility (1), Praise (1), Pray (2), Prayed (1), Prayer (1), Prayers (4), Repent (2), Repentance (1), Repented (3), Righteous (3), Righteousness (1), Souls (5), Spiritual (1), Thanks (1), Unbelief (5), Unbelieving (1).

[28] Normalized numbers for Charity are Mormon:S (1.6) and Moroni2:S (0.89).

[29] Endless (2), Eternal (4), Eternally (1), Eternity (2), Everlasting (4), Forever (3), Immortality (I), Incorruptible (1), Last (3), Visitation (1).

[30] Endless (2), Eternal (5), Everlasting (1), Forever (6), Last (6), Visitation (I).

[31] These differences measured statistically by the student ‘V are often “highly significant” (alpha 0.01). For example, when one compares Mormon:N3 measured between Alma 16:14 and Alrna 30:43 against Mormon:N3 measured between Alma 50:32 and Helaman 3:9, “highly significant” differences are shown for the word clusters God, Military, Church, Spirituality, Societal, Christology, and Riches. One may additionally add those which demonstrate “significant” (alpha 0.05) differences, i.e., Numbers, Negative Emotions, and perhaps Nomadic/Wilderness.