Thursday, August 15, 2019

Internally Consistent Politics in Alma 51 and Alma 61

The Book of Mormon is packed with intricate, internally consistent details.  For a long list of blog posts on this topic, click here. Many of these are subtle enough to elude the casual reader and even serious students of the book, but when you start to look for them, they are all over the place. Furthermore, the extent of this internal consistency forms a strong line of evidence for the divine authenticity of the book. Someone had a lot of time and a lot of notes, and Joseph Smith had neither.

Here's one:

In Alma 61, Pahoran (the chief judge) responds to Moroni's chastisement and threats with a remarkably calm request for help.  He explains the problem:

3 But behold, there are those who do joy in your afflictions, yea, insomuch that they have risen up in rebellion against me, and also those of my people who are freemen, yea, and those who have risen up are exceedingly numerous.
4 And it is those who have sought to take away the judgment-seat from me that have been the cause of this great iniquity; for they have used great flattery, and they have led away the hearts of many people, which will be the cause of sore affliction among us; they have withheld our provisions, and have daunted our freemen that they have not come unto you.
...
8 They have got possession of the land, or the city, of Zarahemla; they have appointed a king over them, and he hath written unto the king of the Lamanites, in the which he hath joined an alliance with him; in the which alliance he hath agreed to maintain the city of Zarahemla, which maintenance he supposeth will enable the Lamanites to conquer the remainder of the land, and he shall be placed king over this people when they shall be conquered under the Lamanites.
This is consistent with a problem encountered about 4 years earlier, as described in Alma 51:


2 Nevertheless, they did not long maintain an entire peace in the land, for there began to be a contention among the people concerning the chief judge Pahoran; for behold, there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the law should be altered.
3 But behold, Pahoran would not alter nor suffer the law to be altered; therefore, he did not hearken to those who had sent in their voices with their petitions concerning the altering of the law.
4 Therefore, those who were desirous that the law should be altered were angry with him, and desired that he should no longer be chief judge over the land; therefore there arose a warm dispute concerning the matter, but not unto bloodshed.
5 And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land.
This contention had been settled by the voice of the people.

Like many instances of internal consistency in the Book of Mormon, this detail draws no attention to itself. The ten chapters in between Alma 51 and 61 are filled with intricate details about a totally separate crisis -- the war with the Lamanites.

Mormon's references to Alma 5

Alma 6 is a short transitional chapter between sermons in Alma 5 and 7, where Mormon moves from quoting Alma's words on the plates of Ne...