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How would Joseph Smith remember to use the expression “and now” to mark a new chapter in the Book of Mormon?

The dictated Book of Mormon contained no punctuation but instead relied on verbal punctuation. One example is the use of “and now” as a break or marker. The phrase “and now” is the most common form of break in the original chapters of the Book of Mormon but also serves as a break within chapters. Such as on the title page:

Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever — And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations — And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

The phrase “and now” is of Hebrew origin and used in the Bible as well as Hebrew letters. William M. Schniedewind explains the importance of this phrase: 

The expression, wʿt(h), “and now,” was an important device that functioned as a new paragraph marker and was learned by ancient scribes when practicing the writing of model letters. The use of wʿt(h) is especially important in ancient Hebrew because the writing system did not have many auxiliary markers to mark semantic functions in the way we have in modern languages (e.g., commas, periods, spaces, line breaks, tabs, paragraphs, etc.).

Schniedewind, The Finger of the Scribe, 111. 

How did Joseph Smith know to use this particular phrase when dictating the Book of Mormon? Don’t breaks like this require more planning and forethought by Joseph?


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