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If Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon, would we expect the four Mayan functions of “and it came to pass” to all appear in the text?

The phrase “and it came to pass” is used frequently in the Old Testament but rarely found in poetry or prophecy. The phrase also occurs frequently in the Book of Mormon and similarly is not found in poetry or prophecy. 

Wouldn’t it have been easy for Joseph Smith to slip up and use the phrase at the wrong time? 

Translators of the Old Testament also used many different English expressions when translating the Hebrew word “wayehi” whereas the Book of Mormon is more consistent in translating the phrase exactly. Wouldn’t we expect a literal translation to be so repetitive?

The phrase “and it came to pass” also appears in Mayan texts in four ways which are all found in the Book of Mormon. From Paul Hoskisson:

For several years, researchers have been aware that the phrase and it came to pass is a good translation of a common Hebrew element.[4] Bruce Warren also reports the confirmation by Mayan experts that an element translated “and it came to pass” functioned in at least four ways in Mayan texts: (1) As a posterior date indicator in a text that meant “to count forward to the next date,” and (2) as an anterior date indicator that signified “to count backward to the given date.” Additionally it could function (3) as a posterior or (4) anterior event indicator, meaning “counting forward or backward to a certain event.”5 Warren finds instances of all four functions of and it came to pass in the Book of Mormon, as well as combined date and event indications in both posterior and anterior expressions. For example, “And it came to pass that the people began . . . ” is a posterior event indicator (3 Nephi 2:3), whereas “And it had come to pass . . . ” is an anterior event indicator (3 Nephi 1:20)

Paul Y. Hoskisson, John W. Welch, Robert F. Smith, Bruce W. Warren, Roger R. Keller, David Fox, and Deloy Pack, “Words and Phrases,” in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992).

What are the odds Joseph Smith would use such a common phrase in the Book of Mormon in all the correct ways?


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