If Joseph Smith had written the Book of Mormon he would have needed to choose nearly 200 new names. Sharon Black and Brad Wilcox summarize what we usually see when authors have to choose names:
– Authors make conscious and deliberate choices for character names, some of which require a great deal of time and consideration.
– They choose names that are easily accessible so that readers can clearly distinguish between characters and keep them straight.
– They are careful that names fit the characters’ personalities, backgrounds, and cultures.
– They go to many different sources to find names that are accurate and interesting.
– They often choose names that have personal significance for them.– Sharon Black and Brad Wilcox – 188 Unexplainable Names: Book of Mormon Names No Fiction Writer Would Choose
Why did Joseph not follow these general conventions? Where we usually see names that are easily accessible so that readers can clearly distinguish between characters, in the Book of Mormon we see:
– Two Almas (father and son), three Aarons (unrelated), two Ammons (unrelated), two Amalekis, Abinadi, Abinadom, Abish, Akish, Amulek, Amulon, Amlici, Amalickiah and Ammoron (nasty brothers), and Antipus (one of the generals who helped defeat them).
– Gadianton and Gidianhi (a couple of robbers); Gideon, Gilead, Gilgal, Gid, Gidgiddonah, and Gidgiddoni (all military leaders or strategists).
– Zarahemla, Zerahemnah, Zeezrom, Zemnarihah, Zenephi, Zenos, Zenock, Zeram, and three Zorams.
– Gentilics (derivations of names of persons or lands), including Lamoni (which means “Lamanite”—which he was), Muloki (which probably comes from “Mulekite”), and Moroni (which means “coming from the land of Moron,” a Book of Mormon land).– Sharon Black and Brad Wilcox – 188 Unexplainable Names: Book of Mormon Names No Fiction Writer Would Choose
If the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction then why do the names not follow the conventions of works of fiction? If Joseph deliberately went against these conventions, how did he already know what the conventions were?