April 20, 2011
So last night we were reading Mosiah for family scripture reading, and I read Mosiah 19:24:
And it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony, that they returned to the land of Nephi, rejoicing, because their wives and their children were not slain; and they told Gideon what they had done to the king.
“Wait a minute,” Julia interrupted, “read that again.” So I did.
“What ceremony?” she asked. ”What is that about?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “I’ve often wondered about that.”
Apparently Mormon assumed we would all know what he was talking about. I think this is actually evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon—if it had been made up by Joseph Smith (or Sidney Rigdon or any other 19th century American) he wouldn’t have been likely to come up with the idea of a ”ceremony” here, and if he had he probably would have elaborated a big description of the ceremony. Instead, we find an offhand remark that’s totally opaque for our culture, just the sort of thing you’d expect in a real ancient document.
(I also find the whole story of Abinadi and King Noah’s priests unlikely as a modern fabrication. The bit about the wicked priests quoting Isaiah 52:7–10 out of context to make it look like Abinadi was wrong to prophesy destruction—note that the text never explicitly says that’s what they were doing—and then Abinadi using it as a springboard for showing how their denial of Christ was evidence of their wickedness, well, I can’t imagine Joseph Smith et al. coming up with that on their own.)