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How did Joseph Smith manage to create three accounts of Alma’s conversion which are consistent with their having been written by a single individual, but in different settings and at different stages of his life?

In the Book of Mormon, there are multiple accounts of Alma the Younger’s visitation of an angel:

  1. Mosiah 27
  2. Alma 36
  3. Alma 38

If Joseph Smith had dictated the Book of Mormon on the fly we would reasonably expect him to either be inconsistent in the different versions of the event, or to use the same memorised language each time. If this was a true account of Alma the Younger then we would expect the details to be reasonably the same but the language used would be different each time as the event was described to different people at different times. We find the latter. 

One example is how there is greater emphasis on the sons of Mosiah in the account which Mosiah recounts. Another example is the wording used to described the earth shaking:

Doesn’t this sound like someone describing an actual event? John Welch summarises this point:

– Welch, “Three Accounts of Alma’s Conversion,”153.

How did Joseph Smith manage to not only produce an internally consistent book but also put himself in the position of the characters?


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