Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2012, August 30

“Book of Mormon: Does ‘Ceremony’ Fit in Mosiah 19:24?” by grego

Book of Mormon: Does ‘Ceremony’ Fit in Mosiah 19:24?

(c) 2012

In “The Archaic Vocabulary of the Book of Mormon” (Volume 25 – Issue 5 – Insights) (, Royal Skousen says:
“If the original vocabulary of the Book of Mormon text dates from Early Modern English, one might wonder if there are any archaic words or expressions that were unrecognizable to Joseph Smith and his scribes, thus leading them to misinterpret and change the language during the early transmission of the text… The first one deals with the word ceremony in Mosiah 19:24: “and it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony that they returned to the land of Nephi.” The problem with this passage is that the word ceremony seems out of place. The larger context implies that their discourse was simply over:
‘and it came to pass that they were about to return to the land of Nephi and they met the men of Gideon and the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children and that the Lamanites had granted unto them that they might possess the land by paying a tribute to the Lamanites of one half of all they possessed and the people told the men of Gideon that they had slain the king and his priests had fled from them farther into the wilderness 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 (Mosiah 19:22—24).'”
Trying to find a word that works better than ceremony works is not easy. Skousen and Bangerter’s proposal that ‘sermon’ was spelled as ‘cermon’ and then miscopied to ‘ceremony’ by the printer seems a little far-fetched.

Ceremony is only out of place because the beginning of the ceremony isn’t mentioned; but that shouldn’t mean much to Book of Mormon students, as that’s not rare in the abridged record.

As Skousen does suggest, there might have “involved some kind of cere­monial aspect in recounting the execution of King Noah”.

Or, as John Tvedtnes suggests: “I assume that he has not read my chapter on “the Nephite Purification Ceremony,” in which I explain that the Nephites mentioned in this passage had just killed King Noah, an act that would have called for purification under the law of Moses” (Reconstructing the Book of Mormon, FARMS Review, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pages 1-3, ).

It could have been a ceremony of accepting the rule of the Lamanite king and his 50% tax.

It could have been a ceremony of accepting Limhi as their new king, seeing as they had separated themselves from the main group and especially killed the old king.

Though it’s not the best fit time-wise, it could have been a ceremony of killing their own king instead of just mob attacking and killing him. (Perhaps someone with greater knowledge and research can follow that one.)

Ceremony needn’t imply a long, drawn-out, complicated ritual; even greeting/ shaking hands can be a ceremony in some instances.

So ceremony does work, and in my opinion, much better than ‘sermon’ (‘discussion’) -> ‘cermon’ -> ‘ceremony’.

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