Could the Book of Mormon be an “E source” document?

Right now I am reading The Elohist and North Israelite Traditions by Alan W. Jenks. On page 22 he writes, “The use of this motif (dreams and prophecy), like that of the divine speech in a night dream, suggests that the Elohist narratives were shaped in a group which was concerned to emphasize a particular type of revelation – one which in Israel was frequently associated with prophecy. This group is also concerned with theological and ethical problems associated with right and wrong, guilt and innocence, in a way that is simply not characteristic of J. (p. 22)

As I read this, I couldn’t help ask myself, “Is 1 Nephi like this? Could 1 Nephi be an Elohist text?” Then I started searching, and found this article by John Sorenson. He makes a great case that much of the text of the Book of Mormon is influenced by Elohist concerns.

Some of the reasons that I believe that the Brass Plates and thus Nephi were influenced by northern traditions (and thus were Elohist authors) are as follows:

  1. Nephi and his father were from the north – they were from the tribe of Manasseh (1 Nephi 5:13; Alma 10:3)
  2. Lehi and Nephi seem to be antagonistic towards the Jews of 600 B.C., something that the Elohist author tended to demonstrate (1 Nephi 1:19).
  3. The Elohist emphasized dreams and visions as a way with interacting with God, something we see Lehi doing (1 Nephi 1:7, 16; 2:1-2).

How the Documentary Hypothesis shows the convergence of texts in time. This is one of many possibilities.

John Sorenson gives more reasons why the Brass Plates are evidence of an Elohist author, but these three evidences got my attention as I read Alan Jenks’ book. So, what do you think? What does the evidence tell you? How much influence has the Elohist had on the text of the Book of Mormon? Does the evidence convince you that the Brass Plates were an “E source” document?

I must say that the Deuteronomist is clearly emphasized throughout the Book of Mormon, something I will write about in a future post. So I do not believe that the text of the Book of Mormon is only influenced by an Elohist perspective. But Sorenson’s article below, combined with other scholars I have read, have led me to conclude that the Elohist’s concerns are found in the Book of Mormon, at least in the work of Lehi and Nephi.

Could the Book of Mormon be an “E source” document? (As taken from John Sorenson’s, The Brass Plates and Biblical Scholarship, 10.3.17)

One of the notable intellectual activities of the 19th and early 20th centuries was development of the view that the Old Testament was a composite of ancient documents of varied age and source. Although the origin of the view in western European thought goes back over two hundred years, it was not until the early decades of this century, with the triumph of an evolutionary view of history, that the logical extreme of the position was attained. Julius Wellhausen’s phrasing of the “classical documentary hypothesis” then became orthodox for virtually all well-educated divines and secular scholars on antiquity.1

Four major strands of tradition—or early sources—were thought distinquishable, particularly in the Pentateuch. These were variously considered actual original documents, or the distinct revisions of later editors, or the manifestations of separate bodies of tradition, first oral and then written. The earliest, or “J” strand was seen as fundamental, from which an “E” tradition diverged. Each had telltale stylistic differences and theological biases, especially in the preference for a different name for divinity—”J” deriving its designation from its common use of Jehovah (Yahweh), and “E” from Elohim. A third source, “P” (for Priestly), was held to present a tradition-conscious picture of a God distant from the lives and immediate concerns of men. The fourth source, “D”, was identified as that emphasizing the Deuteronomic law.2 The Old Testament was seen as an intricate composite of all these separate sources or traditions.

In its extreme form, the logic of documentary analysis on the basis of lexicon, style and content eventually led to distinguishing many more than four sources, all supposedly based on peculiarities detected in the text by one or more analysts. At this extreme the subjectivity manifested by these analysts tended to discredit the entire enterprise.

At the other end of the scale, some critics considered fine-grained stylistic distinctions unreliable and logically untenable, while conceding at the same time that the evidence indeed seemed to demonstrate that the Old Testament account did not derive from a single original source. Fundamentalist Christians looked on Wellhausen and his scholarly peers as “a cunning enemy,”3 along with Darwin, for the multi-traditionary view seemed to them to challenge the historicity of the Old Testament as much as they thought “evolution” did.

Scholarly skepticism about the classical documentary view of the scriptures arose when the findings of modern biblical archaeology in the 1930’s began to show that Hebrew religion had a complex history rather than being a simple development from tribal lore. The discovery and translation of ancient texts further demonstrated the untenability of many methods and conclusions of Wellhausen’s era. The Dead Sea Scrolls showed, for example, that the ancient sources of the Old Testament were far more complex than was allowed in the evolutionism of the older critics.4 In the words of H.D. Hummel:

. . . In all likelihood, the original tradition was richer than any of its three major later derivatives (the Septuagint, Samaritan and Masoretic texts). .. . it now seems likely that [our present] text has suffered more from losses than from glosses.5

Today no one interpretation prevails among the scholars, yet a general tendency is clearly discernible. As John Bright has observed, “Even those who announce their abandonment of the methods of literary criticism for those of oral tradition still feel obliged to work with blocks of material corresponding roughly to what is designated by the symbols J, E, D, and P.”6 William F. Albright was, characteristically, more blunt: “There can be no doubt that nineteenth-century scholarship was correct in recognizing different blocks of material in the Pentateuch.”7 Umberto Cassuto, from an Israeli position, claimed that the divergences in the text which critics have attributed to multiple documents “do not prove the existence of documents such as J, E and P, and they contain nothing that could not be found in a homogeneous book,” yet even he spoke of J, E and P as differing “sources” and supposed them to “indicate the different types of tradition that have been absorbed into the various sections.”8 Clyde Francisco, with a rather conservative American stance, quotes approvingly C. R. North’s statement that, “It seems quite clear that if we bury the ‘documents,’ we shall have to resurrect them—or something very much like them.”9

The general position of Latter-day Saints on the Old Testament has been defensive and apologetic, somewhat along the lines seen in the more traditional Christian denominations. The task for the rare LDS biblical scholar has been to defend unexamined Christian tradition about the text (e.g., that a single Isaiah produced the book that bears his name). Yet concern has been less with the Bible as such than with its relationship to the Book of Mormon, where extensive quotations are made from the Old Testament.10

Although the “brass plates” referred to in the Book of Mormon are said to have much in common with the Old Testament, they have received little attention from Mormon scholars.11 Nonetheless, the hint has long been there that these plates contain a variant Old Testament text comparable to what scholars have considered one of the basic “documents” or “texts” from which the Old Testament was compiled. The thesis of this article is that the brass plates are related to the “E” source. Mormon scripture may thus support rather than challenge the notion that more than a single source underlies the Old Testament.

The Brass Plates

Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon we read of Nephi and his brothers being sent back to Jerusalem to obtain a record particularly desired by their father Lehi.12 This record was in the possession of one Laban, whose ancestry Lehi shared and who possessed significant power and influence in Jerusalem shortly before the Babylonian capitivity.13 The content of the plates had two aspects: (1) “The record of the Jews,” including “the law of Moses,” and (2) “also a genealogy of (Lehi’s) forefathers.”14 Upon the sons’ obtaining the plates, a fuller description was entered in the Lehite record:

Lehi took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning. And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which give an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, Who were our first parents; and also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah; and also the prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah; and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah. And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph. . . . And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers.15

Amulek in the Book of Mormon (Alma 10:3) reports that Lehi descended from Manasseh. Joseph Smith also stated that according to the first portion of the Book of Mormon record—the transcript of which was lost by Martin Harris— Ishmael (who accompanied Lehi) was a descendant of Ephraim.16

The description of the contents of the brass plates indicates that they contained a record essentially similar to the Old Testament as we are familiar with it, but with an expanded text (1 Nephi 3:3), including a genealogy going back through the tribe of Joseph rather than Judah. This points to an origin in the Northern Kingdom, rather than in the Judaic South. This impression is further supported by a number of citations from the brass plate record scattered through the Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon writers mention five prophets whose words appear in the brass plates: Zenos, Zenock, Ezias, Isaiah, and Neum (the last might be Nahum). Of the first four only Isaiah is surely known from existing biblical texts. Internal evidence suggests a reason why: All four direct a great deal of attention to the Northern Kingdom. Since the Masoretic text, which lies behind our King James version, came out of the South, omission of three of the four (or four of the five, counting Neum) is explicable. Zenos is quoted as saying, “And as for those who are at Jerusalem. . . .”17 Nowhere else in the extensive quotes from Zenos does he mention Judah or Jerusalem. This in context strongly suggests that he was not located in the territory of Judah. (It is implied in 3 Nephi 11:16 that Zenos and Zenock were of a Joseph tribe, although nothing is said of location.) The reference to Jerusalem implies a date after David’s capture of the city and quite probably after the division of the monarchy (about 922 B.C.)- Careful reading of the allegory of the olive tree, from Zenos,18 as well as Alma 33:3-17 concerning both Zenos and Zenock, further confirms a context of a sinful Israel more reminiscent of the time of Amos (mid-8th century B.C.) than earlier or later. Moreover, Zenock was said to be a “prophet of old,”19 a chronological term not used regarding Jeremiah or even Isaiah. The probability is high, therefore, that the prophets cited from the brass plates date between 900 B.C. and the end of the Northern Kingdom in 721 B.C.

Lehi’s connection with the Joseph of Egypt is emphasized in the blessing he pronounced on his own son, Joseph.20 When Lehi there asserts, “For behold .. . I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt,” there can be no question that his information was derived from the brass plates, for it was his first inspection of them which revealed to him that he was a descendant of Joseph.21 He then continues on to communicate additional information about Joseph, finally quoting at some length a prophecy credited to that patriarch.22 This added information and the genealogical tie again point our attention to the Northern Kingdom, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh.

The emphasis on Egyptian tradition and language manifest in the Book of Mormon is also coordinate with the Joseph element in the brass plates. Nephi’s statement that his record consisted of “the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians”23 could equally be said of the inscription on the back of one of the carved ivories from Samaria, where Egyptian glyphs were used in a cartouche apparently to spell out the sounds in a Hebrew name (A-L-Y-W-Sh-b or Eliashib).24 Hugh Nibley’s Lehi in the Desert 25 documents extensive Egyptian cultural ties among the Nephites which seem to support a far more fundamental connection than mere trade exposure in the time of Lehi. Lehi’s purpose in obtaining the record was “that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers,” not merely the language of Lehi’s trade transactions.26 It is also to be noted that Lehi, according to Nibley’s analysis, was trade-, international-, and desert- oriented. Such characteristics, we shall see below, are congruent with the Northern-centered E tradition. Other significant data on Northern Kingdom Ephraimitic inclusions and orientations in the Book of Mormon deriving from the brass plates will be pointed out later. It is already evident, however, that the record obtained from Laban’s treasury included a version of the Old Testament with special Northern Kingdom characteristics.

The E Source and the Northern Kingdom

E source was fundamentally a Northern Kingdom expression. According to Albright, E gives strong indications of being an official rewriting of J intended for the Northern Kingdom and produced in the century following division of the Kingdom (about 922 B.C.). J itself could not date later than the division, and its formation under the United Monarchy (about 1000 B.C.) is highly probable. The preferences in deity names between J and E sources have been demonstrated to be consistent and significant, not mere literary quirks.27 They reflect different traditions transmitted through regionally distinct “schools” of scribes which existed from the tenth century onward.28 After the Assyrian destruction of the Northern Kingdom in 721 B.C. “faithful worshippers of Yahweh fled to Judah and there cultivated a number of their own traditions.”29 There in the first half of the seventh century J and E “were woven together . . . into a single narrative (JE).” J was the main source used, with E materials occasionally used in parallel or, more often, in replacement.30

Albright noted that differences between J and E already existed in the Pentateuchal poems dating between Exodus and the Monarchy, thus the later “schools” had a prior basis.31 Such distinction could have had both a regional and a cultural basis, for the El names which characterize the E materials tended to be more popular on the edge of the desert, as a heritage from nomadic times.32 Cassuto’s observation also may be related. He noted that in Old Testament situations where God is represented as a universal or international deity, rather than as God of Israel, an El name occurs. For example in all the sections of Genesis pertaining to Egypt, including the entire story of Joseph, El names are used exclusively.33 The universalizing influence, the desert influence and the Joseph influence in northern Israel all reinforced the separateness of deity names and motifs of the sacred tradition found in E, as against the more nationalistic J source preferred by the Jews at Jerusalem.

Other Indications of E in the Book of Mormon

Details not mentioned above further evidence possible E effects on the Book of Mormon, either through the brass plates or through the family tradition in which Lehi was reared.

  1. The Book of Mormon virtually ignores the Davidic covenant, a “J” element. David is mentioned but six times (two incidentally in quotations from Isaiah). Two instances involved strong condemnation of David.34
  2. Instead, considerable attention is paid to the Abrahamic convenant and to the patriarchs. All twenty-nine references to Abraham are laudatory. Jacob is also so named, a positive E characteristic, whereas J uses “Israel” as his personal name.35
  3. The Jews, particularly the inhabitants of Jerusalem, are branded as evil in the strongest terms.36
  4. Emphasis is placed on Joseph being sold into Egypt, his saving Jacob’s house, and the Lord’s special covenant with Joseph which is not attested in the Old Testament.37 The coat of Joseph is a topic specific to E on which the Book of Mormon adds data not found in the Jewish version (J).38
  5. The name Jehovah, the preferred J title of deity, occurs only twice in the Book of Mormon (once in a quote from Isaiah 12—with one word changed—and once in the very last sentence in the volume). The name Lord is usually used for divinity in the Book of Mormon (almost 1400 times).39
  6. Unmistakable El (E source) names do occur in the Book of Mormon, notably Most High God (Hebrew “El Elyon”) and Almighty God (the Septuagint’s term for “El Shaddai”),40 the former six times and the latter eleven. 36 In addition to these points, which are sufficiently specific that they strike me as probably based on the brass plates text, other characteristics of E of more generic nature are found in the Book of Mormon. We might suppose them to result from the early Book of Mormon writers’ carrying on a recordkeeping tradition or scribal “school” which had a strong E ingredient in it. The Book of Mormon, at least in its first portion (the small plates), could plausibly be considered a manifestation of that scribal tradition, on the basis of the evidence offered above.

E’s focus on events, in contrast to J’s remarkable characterizations of persons, fits the Book of Mormon, which is annalistic and for the most part limited in its treatment of characters. At least the text of the small plates, like E, is abstract, tending to be removed from mundane life. E’s tendency to turn attention back to ancient times likewise fits. The Elohistic (E) tendency to refer to dreams and angelic messengers rather than to direct appearances by God (a J feature) is similarly apt for the Nephite volume. Other E features include greater concern with moral issues, and a relatively spiritualized, distant and abstract conception of God (as against J’s picture of a God treading the earth and concerning himself with specific human events).41

Latter-day Saint scholars should especially consider whether the international or desert influences suggested in E could reflect the situation indicated in D&C 84:6-13, which asserts that a line of priesthood and sacred knowledge related to but distinct from that in Israel persisted in the desert from the time of Esaias, a contemporary and associate of Abraham, at least until Moses and Jethro. The last is an E name, in contrast to J’s Hobab; of course Jethro’s father was Reu’El.42 (It is doubtful that Esaias is the same as the “Ezias” mentioned in Helaman 8:20, given the differing spellings of the names both of which came to print through Joseph Smith. Textual usage affirms the difference.)

Some may suggest that the Elohistic features noted above occur in the Book of Mormon as pure happenstance—that Joseph Smith in authoring or translating the Book of Mormon phrased the Book in biblical language familiar to him, some of which would necessarily be similar to E elements preserved in the King James’ version. Chance seems ruled out, however, by Robert F. Smith’s finding that the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price lacks E and appears to show J and P characteristics but no E.43 Thus Joseph Smith’s style is a doubtful explanation for E features in the Book of Mormon, there being no reason to think the language used by him would be any different from one volume to the next—except as the original sources differed.

A Plausible Synthesis

The record engraved in Egyptian characters on the brass plates had its origin long before Lehi’s day.44 Strong emphasis in this account on Abraham and Joseph hints that this usage could have begun as early as the visit of the former to Egypt and certainly no later than the time of Joseph, the Egyptian vizier. The record probably reached Palestine via the tribe of Ephraim, Joseph’s son. The lineage maintaining this particular account probably continued living in Ephraimitic territory in northern Israel throughout the time of the Divided Monarchy, until the 721 B.C. destruction of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians. At that point the plates likely were brought south to Jerusalem by a relatively wealthy and influential descent group.

Maintaining the brass plates required becoming literate in the writing system, which was no mean task in itself,45 and then adding to it sacred materials, history and genealogy as this information developed through time.46 Although the lineage record was privately held and controlled, it was known and available to the leading Jews in Jerusalem.47 No doubt records kept by other groups were in turn known to the scribes keeping the plates of Laban. Comparing, editing and making new copies would have been among the scribal functions.

At least two branches of the kinship unit having custody of the brass plates had developed by the time of Lehi in the latter half of the seventh century B.C. His family had lost direct contact with the scribal branch but were aware of some connection.48 The scribal branch was both wealthy and powerful within the Jerusalem establishment.49 Lehi’s branch was also in a substantial status though not prominent.50 Upon Lehi’s determining to leave the kingdom of Judah in anticipation of coming disaster at the hands of the Babylonians, he had his sons seek the plates of brass from Laban, the record custodian for the related group. They did obtain them—with great difficulty— then departed into the desert, eventually reaching the New World.

Lehi had lived all his life at Jerusalem, yet he found himself antipathetic to the Jews there, and they to him.51 His personal characteristics in some ways stood against those common in the Jerusalem hierarchy in ways parallel to how the E source differed from J. Lehi was moralistic, a dreamer, archaistic, with a rather abstract view of God, and more concerned with historical events and sacred principles than with personalities or the concrete present.52 Judging by his son Nephi he liked to contemplate the complex symbolism and distant prophecy of an Isaiah rather than the concreteness of Jeremiah’s burdens against his contemporaries at Jerusalem.53 He preferred the clarity of Abraham’s and Joseph’s god El (Elohim, El Shaddai, El Elyon), over a Yahweh encumbered and obscured by pagan cult practices of the Jerusalem of his day.54

The record-keeping tradition begun among the Nephites took its form out of the character and cultural background of Lehi and Nephi, the two pivotal persons in the transfer. While we expect some changes took place between the form and process of tradition-keeping manifest in Lehi’s line in Palestine and that by which the Nephite scribes carried out their responsibilities, a great deal of continuity is also evident. Nephi, a culture hero, was followed by his brother, Jacob, who confirmed the religious and literary tradition which his elder brother had implemented. Both of them preferred prophets who dealt at length with the Northern Kingdom, Isaiah on the one hand and Zenos on the other.55 Then later keepers of the Nephite records followed implicitly the pattern set by these early leaders.56 In this manner an Old World scribal tradition was transplanted to the New World where traces of it might still be seen two millennia later.57

In conclusion, there appears good evidence that the Book of Mormon contains elements which are congruent with what scholars of the Old Testament distinguish as the E or Elohistic source. To biblical scholars this congruence should invite serious attention to the Book of Mormon for what it may reveal to them about Old Testament sources. To Latter-day Saints, the presence of E materials in the Book of Mormon should serve as a challenge and stimulus to examine more carefully the scriptures entrusted to them, and to participate actively and cooperatively in elucidating both the texts and their interpretations.


This paper was originally prepared for a festschrift in honor of Hugh Nibley under the editorship of John Welch for Nibley’s retirement.

  1. Luke H. Grollenberg. A New Look at an Old Book. Newman Press: Paramus, N.J. and New York, 1969, 11-28; or any standard encyclopedic source.
  2. E. A. Speiser. “Introduction.” The Anchor Bible: Genesis. Doubleday: Garden City, New York, 1964.
  3. Grollenberg, op. cit., 21.
  4. William R Albright. Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths. Univesity of London, The Athlone Press: London, 1968, 25-6.
  5. Horace D. Hummel, “Bible: Bible Research and Criticism,” Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 4. Keter Publishing House Ltd.: Jerusalem, 1971, 93; cf. Albright, op.cit., 32; Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, 1967, 26, 30.
  6. John Bright. A History of Israel. Second ed. Westminster Press: Philadelphia, 1972, 69.
  7. Albright, op. cit., 26-27.
  8. Umberto Cassuto. The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Petateuch: Eight Lectures. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1961.
  9. Clyde T. Francisco. “Genesis. Introduction.” The Broadman Bible Commentary. Vol. 1. Revised ed. Broadman Press: Nashville, 1973, 104.
  10. Nibley, op. cit, 130-152, is somewhat ambitious, but more typical are Sidney B. Sperry, Our Book of Mormon. Stevens and Wallis: Salt Lake City, 1947, chapters 14-16; Book of Mormon Compendium. Bookcraft: Salt Lake City, 1968, 177, 508-512; and H. Grant Vest. The Problem of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, Masters Thesis, BYU, 1938. Kent Robson. “The Bible, the Church, and its Scholars,” Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, 2 No. 1 (Spring 1967), 85-90, hopes for better days but makes no substantive contribution.
  11. Nibley, op. cit., 131-134.
  12. 1 Nephi 3:3-4, 19-20.
  13. 1 Nephi 5:16, 4:1, 9, 22.
  14. 1 Nephi 3:3, 4:15-16.
  15. 1 Nephi 5:10-16.
  16. Sidney B. Sperry. Answers to Book of Mormon Questions. Bookcraft: Salt Lake City, 1967, 10.
  17. 1 Nephi 19:13.
  18. Jacob 5.
  19. Alma 33:17. Nibley thought Zenock an Egyptian name, Lehi in the Desert, p. 30.
  20. 2 Nephi 3:4; cf. 1 Ne. 5:14-16.
  21. 1 Nephi 5:16; cf. 1 Ne. 5:14-16.
  22. 2 Nephi 3:6-22
  23. 1 Nephi 1:2; cf. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, p. 13-17.
  24. J.W. and G.M. Crowfoot. “The Ivories from Samaria,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly, Q.S., 1933, 12-13, Plate II; cf. Mormon 9:32 on “reformed Egyptian” as a phonetically-related script.
  25. Hugh Nibley. Lehi in the Desert, and the World of the Jaredites. Bookcraft: Salt Lake City, 1952.
  26. See 1 Nephi 3:19, and compare to Mosiah 1:2,4, which seem to me to indicate that “language of the Egyptians” refers to “engravings” of the glyph system, used to represent Hebrew parole. Others disagree with this view.
  27. Robert J. Boling. “Synonymous Parallelism in the Psalms,” Journal of Semitic Studies 5 (1960), 221-225, cited in Albright, op. cit., 27-28.
  28. Albright, op. cit. 25-26.
  29. Grollenberg, op. cit., 33.
  30. Bright, op. cit., 71-72. Westminster Introduction to the Books of the Bible. Westminster Press: Philadelphia, 1958, 32-33. Anthony Phillips. “Commentary.” In Deuteronomy. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1973, 6.
  31. Albright, op. cit., 29.
  32. Ibid, 30.
  33. Cassuto, op. cit., 61.
  34. Jacob 1:15, 2:23-24, 31-33.
  35. On the covenant with Abraham: 1 Nephi 15:18, 17:40; 2 Nephi 29:14. On Jacob/Israel: Speiser, op. cit., 293-294.
  36. For example, 1 Nephi 1:19, 17:42-44.
  37. 1 Nephi 5:14-15; 17-40; 2 Nephi 3:4-5, 9-10, 16-17; 4:1-3; 10:3
  38. Speiser, op. cit., 289-293. Nibley, Approach to the Book of Mormon, 186-8. I am indebted to Benjamin Urrutia for drawing this to my attention.
  39. Robert R. Smith (personal communication) has suggested that this title may represent the Tetragrammaton, and thus be equivalent to Yahweh or Jehovah. That may be so, but then it is difficult to see why Joseph Smith, the translator, specifically used the term Jehovah at all.
  40. Albright, op. cit., 30, 94, 164.
  41. Speiser, op. cit., xxx-xxxiii; Robert Pfeiffer. Introduction to the Old Testament. Rev. Ed. Harper and Row: New York, 1948, 139-140. Grollenberg, op cit., 19-20.
  42. Albright, op cit., 34 (N.Y. ed., p. 39).
  43. Smith’s comments and materials have been most helpful to me. See “A Documentary Analysis of the Book of Abraham,” prepared for a festschrift honoring Hugh Nibley.
  44. 1 Nephi 3:19; Mosiah 1:2-5. Nibley (Lehi in the Desert, 15-16) over-simplifies here.
  45. Mosiah 1:2; cf. 3 Nephi 6:12.
  46. 1 Nephi 5:12-13.
  47. 1 Nephi 4:20-27.
  48. 1 Nephi 3:2-5; 10-13. Apparently Lehi never connected Laban, who was a well-known figure (to judge by verses 3 and 31) with the plates or his ancestry until advised so in a dream.
  49. 1 Nephi 3:31; 4:20-22.
  50. 1 Nephi 2-4, ii; 3:22-25; yet note 3:13 and 4:36.
  51. 1 Nephi 1:4, 18-20.
  52. 1 Nephi 2:11; 1: 5:2, 4; 5-6; chapter 10; 2 Nephi chapters 1-3; etc.
  53. Compare 1 Nephi 7:14.
  54. 2 Kings 23.
  55. 2 Nephi 25:5; Jacob chapters 5 and 6.
  56. Jacob 7:27; Enos 16; Jarom 1-2, 15; Omi 1, 3-4, 9, 11, 14, 17, 25; Mosiah 17:2, 25:1-3; 3 Nephi 5:20; Mor. 1:1; Words of Mormon 1-11. These passages demonstrate that all the Nephite recordkeepers whose materials are incorporated in the Book of Mormon belonged to one of two descent groups (Nephi’s or Jacob’s) and followed similar procedures.
  57. “See my “Social Structure and Cult among the Nephites,” paper read to the Society for Early Historical Archaeology, BYU, Oct. 26, 1947; cf. Robert Carmack, Quichean Civilization. University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1972; and Lawrence H. Feldman, “Tollan in Central Mexico,” Katunob, 8 No. 3 (February 1973), 1-6.


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3 Responses to Could the Book of Mormon be an “E source” document?

  1. Pingback: The Messiness of Scripture | LDS Scripture Teachings

  2. Nathan says:

    I’ve long been intrigued by this hypothesis. I first read about it in Ben McGuire’s great piece “Nephi and Goliath: A Case Study of Literary Allusion in the Book of Mormon.” He points out that when Nephi slays Laban, not only are there several allusions to the David and Goliath account, but they all come from only the E (Elohist) passages in 1 Samuel, not the J passages. Fascinating corroboration of this theory!

    Click to access S00004-5074648ca9094McGuire.pdf

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