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How would Joseph Smith know about the idiom of “calling” names?

Latter-day Saint scholar John A. Tvedtnes has noted an interesting idiom regarding names in the Book of Mormon. 

In English we would say a parent “called his son John”, whereas in Hebrew a parent would “call the name of his son John”. In Hebrew it is the name that is “called” rather than the person or place. 

The Book of Mormon is consistent with this Hebrew idiom. In many places of the Book we see that the names of places are “called” such as:

“we did call the name of the place Shazer” (1 Nephi 16:13)

“and they called the name of the city Moroni” (Alma 50:13-14)

“he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman” (Mosiah 1:2)

“they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies” (Alma 23:17)

How did Joseph Smith know about this? If Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon himself we would’ve expected him to have said:

“we did call the place Shazer”

“and they called the city Moroni”

“he had three sons and he called the Mosiah, Helorum and Helaman”

“they called themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehies”

Where would Joseph Smith have learned this and how would he remember to use it while dictating the Book of Mormon?


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