Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Robert A. Rees


Book of Mormon, Language, Modern Church, Joseph Smith, Restoration, Coming forth of the Book of Mormon


The Book of Mormon appears replete with examples of verbal and dramatic irony, something unlikely to have been produced intentionally by Joseph Smith with his level of rhetorical and expressive skills. Dramatic irony occurs when an exceeding young Nephi, who is large in stature, admires the exquisite sword of Laban and then grapples with the distasteful command to kill Laban with that sword. Having passed the test, Nephi has matured into a man large in stature. Dramatic irony also occurs in Abinadi’s experience with King Noah and in the similar experiences of Alma and Korihor with the power of speech and silence. Verbal irony is apparent in Lehi’s expectations for Laman to be like a river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness, and for Lemuel to be like a valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord. Nephi also refutes his older brothers’ false knowledge by reminding them of what they already know.