Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, October 14

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”

PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS

John L. Sorenson:
The social, political, ethnic, and language relationships involved in this business are not straightforward, to say the least. An analysis of the terminology applied to peoples in the Book of Mormon could reveal useful information on this subject. This is not the place to do that fully, but the approach can be sketched and some of the results anticipated. References to the key people of the record vary: (1) “Nephite(s)” or “the Nephites” occurs 339 times; (2) “people of the Nephites,” 18 times; (3) “people of Nephi,” 4 times; (4) “children of Nephi,” twice, and (5) “descendants of Nephi,” twice. Usage of the second and third expressions gives us something to ponder about the composition of the people referred to. The meaning of the first expression is made clear early by Jacob when he says, “those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites.” Then he continues the definition in an interesting way: “… or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings” (Jacob 1:14). A few lines earlier Jacob had reported that when Nephi anticipated his own death, he had designated “a [successor] king and a ruler over his people … according to the reigns of the kings… . And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever [personal] name they would” (Jacob 1:9, 11). Jacob here makes clear that his definition of “Nephites, or the people of Nephi” hinges on political allegiance to a king, a king who always bore the title “Nephi.” This definition does not depend at all on whether “Nephites” were or were not literal descendants from Nephi, nor whether they had Sam, Jacob, Joseph, or Zoram, the founding fathers of the group, among their ancestors. In fact Jacob’s terminology may refer to the original father Nephi only indirectly. What he says in 11, where the term “Nephites” is first used, is that those classified under that term were simply all who were ruled by the existing monarch, the current “Nephi.” No reason is evident to me to believe that in the 338 usages after Jacob begins the practice that “Nephite(s)” means anything else. It is essentially a sociopolitical, not an ethnic or linguistic, label. Cases where the text reports that political allegiance changed are consistent with this notion. Thus the children who had been fathered, then abandoned, by the renegade priests of Noah chose to “be numbered among those who were called Nephites” (Mosiah 25:12). That is, when they came under the sovereignty of the current head of the Nephite government, they both gave their allegiance to him and changed their group label to “Nephites.”

****”No reason is evident to me to believe that in the 338 usages after Jacob begins the practice that “Nephite(s)” means anything else.” Wow. Three hundred and thirty-eight times, and it all means the same exact thing? Was this checked, or assumed? I won’t check it, and I seriously doubt that anyone else checked it. However, Jacob 1:13–two verses later–seems to immediately show that this theory isn’t very strong. Then, for example, see 4 Nephi 1:36, 37; Mormon 1:8, 9. Once more, we see who makes up the “Nephites”. And all the other names mean something different? That was checked too? Nope (we’ll see later on).

It is interesting to note that King Mosiah, though king of the Nephites, was not named “Nephi”; neither his son Benjamin, nor Benjamin’s son Mosiah. And this was before the mixing with the people of Zarahemla.

Out of curiosity, how come “people of Laman” is not used in the Book of Mormon, when they at least had the Almaite slaves? Would the Almaite slaves have counted as the “people of Laman”?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
In a parallel case earlier, “all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi” (Mosiah 25:13). Conversely, when Amlici and his followers rebelled against Nephite rule and “did consecrate Amlici to be their king,” they took a unique group name to mark the political rebellion, “being called Amlicites” (Alma 2:9). Meanwhile “the remainder”–those loyal to Alma, the continuing official ruler–“were [still] called Nephites” (Mosiah 25:11). Again, when the Zoramites transferred allegiance from the Nephite government to the Lamanite side, they “became Lamanites” (Alma 43:4, 6). We see, then, that the Nephites constituted those governed by the ruling “Nephi,” who was always a direct descendant of the original Nephi. But the label does not of itself convey information about the ethnic, linguistic, or physical characteristics or origin of those called Nephites. It is true that the name “Nephites” sometimes connotes those who shared culture, religion, and ethnicity or biology. But every rule-of-thumb we construct that treats the Nephites as a thoroughly homogeneous unit ends up violated by details in the text. Variety shows through the common label, culturally (e.g., Mosiah 7:15; Alma 8:11-12), religiously (e.g., Mosiah 26:4-5 and 27:1; Alma 8:11), linguistically (e.g., Omni 1:17-18), and biologically (e.g., Alma 3:17, note the statement concerning Nephi’s seed “and whomsoever shall be called thy seed”; Alma 55:4). “Nephites” should then be read as the generic name designating the nation (see Alma 9:20) ideally unified in a political structure headed by one direct descendant of Nephi at a time. Even more indicative of social and cultural variation among the Nephites is the usage by their historians of the expression “people of the Nephites.” It connotes that there existed a social stratum called “the Nephites” while another category was “people” who were “of,” that is, subordinate to, those “Nephites,” even while they all were under the same central government and within the same broad society. Limhi was ready to accept such a second-class status for his people, the Zeniffites, and assumed that the dependent category still existed as it apparently had when his grandfather had left Zarahemla (see Mosiah 7:15).
The Amulonites operated a similar system in the land of Helam, where they held Alma’s group in effective serfdom (see Mosiah 23:36-39 and 24:8-15). (At the same time the privileges of the Amulonites themselves were at the sufferance of the Lamanite king, as shown in Mosiah 23:39; power in Lamanite society was also heavily stratified.)

****On the other hand, all this could be explained like this: I am American, from America, from the US, from the USA, from the States, one of the people of America, etc. Is anything usually meant by any one of those terms, to differentiate it from the others? No. So, must the writers have necessarily been differentiating anything? Are we looking too hard for something that doesn’t exist? Is the typical, general American a certain way? Maybe. Is every American that way? Of course not.

I would ask the reader to consider this passage in light of “Nephites” and “people of Nephi” definition proposals given above by John L. Sorenson, and see if it makes any sense whatsoever:
Mosiah 25:1 AND now king Mosiah caused that all the people should be gathered together.
Mosiah 25:2 Now there were not so many of THE CHILDREN OF NEPHI, OR SO MANY OF THOSE WHO WERE DESCENDANTS OF NEPHI, as there were of THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.
Mosiah 25:3 And there were not so many of THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI and of the people of Zarahemla as there were of THE LAMANITES; yea, they were not half so numerous.
Mosiah 25:4 And now all THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI were assembled together, and also all THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, and THEY WERE GATHERED TOGETHER IN TWO BODIES.
Mosiah 25:5 And it came to pass that MOSIAH did read, and caused to be read, the records of Zeniff TO HIS PEOPLE; yea, he read the records of the people of Zeniff, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until they returned again.
I think it’s clear that the proposed distinction is false–king Mosiah did not gather his people (wait–I thought they were “the people of Nephi”, not the people of Mosiah!?)–the lower class–together with the people of Zarahemla (whoops, not Zarahemlaites)–is this a special “lower class”/ people of Nephi/ people of Zarahemla meeting with the king, while the REAL members of society stayed home?–and read them the records. And there are other places in the Book of Mormon where the definitions don’t match up. THUS, IT’S SAFE TO ASSUME THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE FURTHER ARGUMENTS BASED ON THIS LINE OF THINKING ARE ALL INCORRECT. In logic, if you start with false premises, the result will also very likely be false/ incorrect.

“We see, then, that the Nephites constituted those governed by the ruling “Nephi,” who was always a direct descendant of the original Nephi.”
Um, John L. Sorenson just said that “‘the remainder’–those loyal to Alma, the continuing official ruler–‘were [still] called Nephites’ (Mosiah 25:11)”–did I miss that Alma’s name was Nephi?
Mosiah 25:13 “And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon NONE BUT THOSE WHO WERE DESCENDANTS OF NEPHI.”
Where does the Book of Mormon say that “the ruling ‘Nephi'” “was always a DIRECT descendant of the original Nephi”?

“Violations” of the meaning are clearly noted; never, however, is a violation mentioned that is caused by “others”. This should make one think…

“It connotes that there existed a social stratum called “the Nephites” while another category was “people” who were “of,” that is, subordinate to, those “Nephites,” even while they all were under the same central government and within the same broad society.”
If this can be shown by the text, I am ready to listen. Where is evidence of and support in the Book of Mormon text for this statement of differentiation? (The Amulonites doesn’t count, really, huh?)
King Limhi says:
Mosiah 7:15 For behold, we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne. And now, behold, our brethren will deliver us out of our bondage, or out of the hands of the Lamanites, and we will be their slaves; for it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites.
I am missing any hint at all that king Limhi believes that such a system exists among the Nephites. Can you imagine that someone like Nephi and those that followed him had slaves? :( However, let’s say there were slaves, or bondsmen, or indentured servants, or people paying off debt or crimes, or something that could be termed “slave”; or that it was a contract among the less righteous Nephites. Would that be that ALL slaves were OTHERS who were the people of Nephi, and “NEPHITES” were “real” Nephites? In other words, only Others could be slaves, and none of the slaves were true Nephites? How possible is that? (Maybe the Nephites captured slaves when they attacked other peoples and won??)

We see that this system might have existed; we also read this:
Alma 27:8: And the king said unto him: yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, we will go down unto our brethren, and WE WILL BE THEIR SLAVES until we repair unto them the many murders and sins which we have committed against them.
Alma 27:9: But Ammon said unto him: IT IS AGAINST THE LAW OF OUR BRETHREN, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED BY MY FATHER, THAT THERE SHOULD BE ANY SLAVES AMONG THEM; therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of OUR BRETHREN.

So does the term “people of Nephi” occur AFTER king Mosiah II? If so, that would seem to really put the steam out of that argument. And yes, it does. Many, many times. So what, the freed slaves were still a lower class of others that never mixed in?

However, to assume that “Nephites” and “people of Nephi” means those things, is a big step with no evidence backing it. Once more, where in the text…?

What might have happened? The Mulekites (who joined with king Mosiah I) might have had slaves, NOT the Nephites themselves originally; yet, joining with the Nephites and being called Nephites, and the slaves not immediately freed, the Nephites (read “Mulekites who became Nephites”) would have had slaves, and then perhaps a few Nephites; later, king Mosiah II made slavery against the law.
The Zeniffites would have left from this time period when the Mulekites and Nephites were joined, but before Mosiah II had changed the law.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Generally, similar stratification is evident in the account of the Zoramites where the powerful segment succeeded in expelling those of the deprived poorer element who did not toe the line (see Alma 32:2-5; 35:3-7).
—-
****Why would the poor Zoramites want to join the Nephites, if they were only to join in as poor slaves? Just to be able to worship in sanctuaries? But hadn’t they just been taught by Alma and Amulek that true worship didn’t require sanctuaries?
Part of the problem with dissident/ segment groups was their changing of the Nephite laws, as we see in this example, as also with the people of Ammonihah. This is an example of it. These are not mainstream Nephites!

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The dominance of a powerful Nephite establishment over subordinate groups is shown dramatically in Mormon 2:4. There we read that Nephite armies under Mormon “did take possession of the city” of Angola, obviously against the resistance of the local, nominally “Nephite” inhabitants. Hence, some were more Nephite than others, in a sense.

****Why John L. Sorenson believes it is “obviously against the resistance of the local, nominally “Nephite” inhabitants”, based on the text, is a mystery to me. The text offers no evidence for that.
And yet, when talking about Amulek, John L. Sorenson did not explore this option.

It is true that “take possession” and “obtained possession” can mean a change in powers, and “took command” mean to switch leaders of the same team:
Alma 52:24 “…And while Teancum was thus leading away the Lamanites who were pursuing them in vain, behold, Moroni commanded that a part of his army who were with him should MARCH FORTH INTO THE CITY, AND TAKE POSSESSION OF IT.”
Alma 52:25 “And thus THEY DID, AND SLEW ALL THOSE [LAMANITES] who had been left to protect the city, yea, all those who would not yield up their weapons of war.”
Alma 52:26 “And thus Moroni had OBTAINED POSSESSION OF THE CITY MULEK WITH A PART OF HIS ARMY…”
Alma 53:2 “And MORONI WENT TO THE CITY OF MULEK WITH LEHI, AND TOOK COMMAND OF THE CITY AND GAVE IT UNTO LEHI…”
In the context of cities, Mosiah 23:29, Alma 43:22, 47:8, 51:23, 26, 30, 52:13, 55:24, 58:21, 28, 61:18, Helaman 1:20, Mormon 4:2, 7, 13, all support “take/ taking possession” meaning one side taking it from an opposing side.
Alma 2:25,
Alma 50:29 Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward.
Alma 62:6 And thus, when Moroni had gathered together whatsoever men he could in all his march, he came to the land of Gideon; and uniting his forces with those of Pahoran they became exceedingly strong, even stronger than the men of Pachus, who was the king of those dissenters who had driven the freemen out of the land of Zarahemla and had taken possession of the land.
Alma 62:7 And it came to pass that Moroni and Pahoran went down with their armies into the land of Zarahemla, and went forth against the city, and did meet the men of Pachus, insomuch that they did come to battle.
Alma 62:8 And behold, Pachus was slain and his men were taken prisoners, and Pahoran was restored to his judgment-seat.
Alma 62:11 And thus ended the thirtieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; Moroni and Pahoran having restored peace to the land of Zarahemla, among their own people, having inflicted death upon all those who were not true to the cause of freedom.
3 Nephi 4:1 AND it came to pass that in the latter end of the eighteenth year those armies of robbers had prepared for battle, and began to come down and to sally forth from the hills, and out of the mountains, and the wilderness, and their strongholds, and their secret places, and began to take possession of the lands, both which were in the land south and which were in the land north, and began to take possession of all the lands which had been deserted by the Nephites, and the cities which had been left desolate.
Alma 27:26 And it came to pass that it did cause great joy among them. And they went down into the land of Jershon, and took possession of the land of Jershon; and they were called by the Nephites the people of Ammon; therefore they were distinguished by that name ever after.
In Helaman 1:33, we read that:
“…Moronihah TOOK POSSESSION of the city of Zarahemla AGAIN, and caused that the Lamanites who had been taken prisoners should depart out of the land in peace”.
Mormon 4:2
Mormon 4:8 And it came to pass that they were repulsed and driven back by the Nephites. And when the Nephites saw that they had driven the Lamanites they did again boast of their own strength; and they went forth in their own might, and took possession again of the city Desolation.
“Took possession” is not really clear here, because of the death of the chief judge, but fortunately the word “again” in the verse supports my answer.
Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God.
Alma 50:38 Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman.
Alma 63:1 And it came to pass in the commencement of the thirty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, that Shiblon took possession of those sacred things which had been delivered unto Helaman by Alma.

So, here’s a little of what the Book of Mormon says in Mormon 2:
Mormon 2:4: And it came to pass that we did come to the city of Angola, and WE DID TAKE POSSESSION OF THE CITY, and make preparations to defend ourselves against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that WE DID FORTIFY THE CITY WITH OUR MIGHT; but notwithstanding all our fortifications THE LAMANITES did come upon us and did drive us out of the city.

“And it came to pass that we did gather in OUR PEOPLE as fast as it were possible, that we might get them together in one body” (Mormon 2:7).
“But behold, THE LAND WAS FILLED WITH ROBBERS AND WITH LAMANITES; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was BLOOD AND CARNAGE SPREAD THROUGHOUT ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, BOTH on the part of THE NEPHITES and also on the part of THE LAMANITES; and it was ONE COMPLETE REVOLUTION THROUGHOUT ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND.” (Mormon 2:8).
It likely means just what it says: Moroni, fleeing to an area that was previously far from the battlefront and not prepared for war, took over the Nephite city–that is, put it under military command, and relieved the civil leader(s) of defense duties, and possibly civil duties (martial law) over the city. Had he had privileges or the voice of the people to do this (as the previous Moroni often had), this is completely fine. Why would righteous Mormon usurp authority from an “other” “lower” people (and then possibly kick them out of their own city,) who were already “Nephites”, then gather in “real” Nephites who were somehow all around in the same/ nearby area? Mormon plain wouldn’t have done it, especially if it were an non-warring city of stranger Nephites. Isn’t class distinction spoken about in the Book of Mormon? Isn’t this “Charity” Mormon?
Wait… wouldn’t these other people be Lamanites, as per the definition that all these Others authors promote: those not friendly to the Nephites, or something like that? Or did Mormon take possession of the city because the people gave it up to him so he could help them survive?

Does this theory–that Mormon 2:4 shows lesser Nephites–make sense? The only possible way it would make sense, is if another people had first taken it from the Nephites, and Mormon was just taking back what was lawfully theirs, or if this people were evil and God told him to do it/ etc. Which would make them not Nephites, but another people. So there is that possibility, but it seems pretty remote.

And when there were Nephites, Lamanites, and robbers all over the land in a state of extreme random violence, how did this lesser “people” survive? It’s hard to imagine that, at this time, a smaller, lesser group of people, especially one unfriendly to the Nephites, could have survived the robbers and the Lamanites, but then be overtaken by the Nephites.

When speaking about Amalickiah, it says:
Alma 47:31 “And it came to pass on the morrow HE ENTERED THE CITY NEPHI WITH HIS ARMIES, AND TOOK POSSESSION OF THE CITY.”
Alma 47:33 “Therefore, when the queen had received this message she sent unto Amalickiah, desiring him that he would spare the people of the city; and she also desired him that he should come in unto her; and she also desired him that he should bring witnesses with him to testify concerning the death of the king.”
Amalickiah, already on the Lamanite side and the leader of the Lamanite army, “took possession” of the Lamanite capital! How could that possibly be? Easy–he is not the civil ruler. I believe that this once more supports my view.

Also, this seems to be a pattern in this war of Mormon with the Lamanites.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
A socially complex society is also reflected in Alma’s expression, “all [God’s] people who are called the people of Nephi” (Alma 9:19).

****Well, this interpretation might be one possibility, though I find that a hard way to interpret it. That’s a very blurry reflection, at best. How about, “God has a lot of people, and the people of Nephi are some of them.” Wow, there you go! No “socially complex society” because of Others needed… Wait, where is the connection between a “socially complex society” and Others?
Let’s see about these verses, where Alma is speaking to the people of Ammonihah. The people of Ammonihah (at least some, though it seems like most or all is more like it) were
1. not of the church at that time (Alma 8:12);
2. studied to destroy the liberty of Alma’s people (geographic or religious?) (Alma 8:17), which was
3. unlawful, both civily and in the sight of God (Alma 8:17).
Yet, Alma, speaking to them, asks them to REMEMBER: “the tradition of your fathers” and “the commandments of God” (Alma 9:8); how God led “OUR FATHER, LEHI” out of Jerusalem and through the wilderness (Alma 9:9); how God had “delivered OUR FATHERS out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, even by the hands of THEIR OWN BRETHREN (Alma 9:10). Alma then continues to differentiate the Ammonihahites from the Lamanites, and instead group them with the Nephites (see Alma 9:18-24), linking them–once more–to the complete Nephite history in the process.
Let’s look at verses 18 and 19 again:
Alma 9:18 “But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction; and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord.”
Alma 9:19 “For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people. I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy ALL HIS PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI, if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God;”
So what else could this mean? God will not allow the Nephite apostates and seditionists to follow and fulfill their plan to destroy his people, but would rather leave that task to the Lamanites.
Though it might sound simplistic and strained, the Lord also has other people in other lands.
Alma could also have meant for the Ammonihahites to remember that they were Nephites, too, and that the prophecy still held to them, even though they had separated themselves from the Nephites; the prophecy wasn’t just for the “other” Nephites. Which “other” Nephites? The ones the people of Ammonihah were going to try to destroy.
And the Lamanites did destroy the people of Ammonihah.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
This subordination and potential variety within the society seem to me plainer in the expression “the people of the Nephites” than in the more usual “Nephites.” If we look closely, then, it seems that we can detect in the “nation” centered at Zarahemla an ability to incorporate social and ethnic variety greater than the title “Nephites” may suggest on surface reading. Also of interest is a statement by the judges in Zarahemla to Nephi when he prophesied the destruction of the Nephites because of wickedness. At Helaman 8:6 they reply, “we are powerful, and our cities great, therefore our enemies can have no power over us.” The surprising thing is that nominally the Nephites and Lamanites were at this time in an unprecedented condition of peace (see Helaman 6:34-37). So who were the “enemies” those Gadianton-linked judges had in mind?

****I think that the fact that they were at peace for so long led them to believe that the Lamanites didn’t attack because they feared them.
Helaman 3:17: And now I return again to mine account; therefore, what I have spoken had passed after there had been great CONTENTIONS, AND DISTURBANCES, AND WARS, AND DISSENSIONS, AMONG THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI.

Helaman 3:19: And it came to pass that there WAS STILL GREAT CONTENTION IN THE LAND, yea, even in the forty and seventh year, and also in the forty and eighth year.

Look at Italy in the late 1200’s/ early 1300’s.

These wicked judges might have easily called the Lamanites “enemies”–though converted, there were still two lands and a long history of war and hatred.

It is also possible that there was at least contention, if not war, with the people in the land northward, who at that time were wicked:
“And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did go into the LAND NORTHWARD; and also Nephi and Lehi went into the land northward, TO PREACH UNTO THE PEOPLE. And thus ended the sixty and third year” (Helaman 6:6).
“For he had been forth among the people who were in THE LAND NORTHWARD and did preach the word of God unto them, and did prophesy many things unto them;” (Helaman 7:2)
“And they DID REJECT ALL HIS WORDS, insomuch that he could not stay among them, but returned again unto the land of his nativity” (Helaman 7:3).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Could they have been non-Lamanites (rival secret groups?), some of whose descendants in the final period of Nephite history constituted a third, non-Lamanite force (see Mormon 2:10, 27)?

****There is nothing I see in Mormon 2:10, 27 that even implies this coming of the Gadianton robbers into the Nephite lands from a different place, if this is what is meant. All the references to the Gadianton robbers/ secret societies in the Book of Mormon (including Ether) relate them to the Nephites and Lamanites only.
Not only that, but Nephi was preaching against the Gadianton robbers, who had obtained sole management of the government and had many followers (Helaman 6:39; 7:4, 21, 25).
Additionally, when Nephi is rejected and then there is a war, it is among the Nephites, not the Nephites versus “others” (Helaman 10:18). We read a few verses later that it is really the Nephites versus the “secret band of robbers” (Helaman 11:1, 2)–the Gadianton robbers”, who were “amongst them” (Helaman 11:10).

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