Saturday, September 11, 2010

Humor in the Book of Mormon

If there's one element of our appreciation of the Book of Mormon we need to improve on, it's looking at it as a source for good humor as well as inspiration. Here are a few of my favorite Book of Mormon-related humorous scriptures/anecdotes.

My favorite funny verse in the whole book has to be 3 Nephi 3:13: "Yea, he sent a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather together their women, and their children, their flocks and their herds, and their substance, save it were their land, unto one place." I obviously have no idea what was going through Mormon's mind when he was abridging this history, but I really hope he was just getting kind of tired of summing up years of history so he threw in some sarcasm: "But just to be clear, they didn't gather their land together in one place."

One of my MTC teachers told us about a meeting they had with an investigator who was trying to decide if he wanted to get baptized. My teacher was with a new missionary for the day who didn't speak Estonian too well, but who nevertheless decided to speak up and share a powerful scripture to help this man decide to exercise faith and trust in God and join His church. Unfortunately, instead of 1 Nephi 3:7, he opened to 3 Nephi 3:7, and handed it to the investigator to read aloud. My MTC teacher was understandably shocked when the investigator started reading: "Or in other words, yield yourselves up unto us, and unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works, and become our brethren that ye may be like unto us—not our slaves, but our brethren and partners of all our substance." Not exactly the message the eager missionary meant to send.

A friend once pointed out a goof by Abinadi. Mosiah 12:1 reads, in pertinent part, "Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying--Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people." Abinadi, you totally just blew your own cover!

My last example is from a wonderful little remembrance of lessons learned from Hugh Nibley by Boyd Petersen. I'll just quote from Petersen's remarks:
Hugh often stated that "if you take yourself seriously, you won't take the gospel seriously and the other way around." One of my favorite examples of this comes from Curtis Wright, who was a graduate assistant for Hugh. One time Wright came into Hugh's office and found him there absorbed in reading the Book of Mormon and laughing. Wright asked Hugh what was so funny, and Hugh replied that he had found an error in the Book of Mormon. "You did, huh?" Wright responded. "Yes," Hugh stated and handed the scriptures to Wright pointing to Alma 42:10 which says that "man is carnal, sensual and devilish." "What's the matter with that?" demanded Wright. Hugh responded, "They left out stupid."
Do you have any good memories of laughing related to the Book of Mormon? I believe strongly that as we look for humor in the Book of Mormon, we'll appreciate it even more as a book to live by.


  1. I always laugh at 1 Nephi 2:16, where he says "nevertheless being large in stature, wherefore I did cry unto the Lord..." It's like him saying, so I was really young, but totally ripped, and so because I was totally ripped I felt like praying, and because I was totally ripped God answered my prayer

  2. I don't know if this is too much of a stretch, but I was thinking about other parts I laugh at in the Book of Mormon, and one of them is when the Nephites send a huge shipment of wine to the Lamanite army and get them all drunk while they free the Nephite prisoners. I just picture the looks on the guards' faces when they start to sober up and realize that all their prisoners are armed and they are surrounded. I bet there was a whole lot of "oh F..."

    But that reminded me of our previous discussion about our Barley farmers in Idaho, and I thought maybe those guys will come in handy later on when things get really dicey and our enemies are surrounding us and we can just brew a whole bunch of beer and send huge shipments of beer to our enemies and get them so drunk they'll stop paying attention to us.

  3. I have thought about that Abinadi reference more than once when I have read it.

    Another that makes me laugh is in Alma 19:5 when Lamoni's wife talks about her husband stinking. Granted, this is how they knew someone was dead in ancient times (borrowed from their Jerusalem heritage), but how many times has my wife complained about how I stinketh and I'm not unconscious!?

  4. @Kartmatu I like those a lot!
    @Jon-Michael Yes, that is definitely a classic BoM verse. Nobody forgets it!

  5. There are a couple that I always laughed at because it could be taken another way.

    This is one.
    There is quite a few places like 1 Nephi 10:19 "the course of the Lord is one eternal round" I always think of a really long game of golf.

  6. @Sean My dad will love that, thanks!

  7. "And thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried their weapons of war, for peace." - Alma 24:19

    Always imagined Mormon getting interrupted by someone asking a question right there, and writing down the wrong thing, then coming back and looking at it and thinking, "now what? Screw it. I'll just go on."

  8. In the language spoken here in the Marshall Islands (Marshallese), the word for "disguised" and the word for "panties" are the same (jakolkol)... many members here often get very confused when the read that Abinadi went about in panties.

  9. @Minuteman I like that a lot, it kind of reminds me of what I narrate as going through Mormon's head in the 3 Ne 3:13 scripture I mentioned!

    @Anon Wow that is too perfect! Not quite as good, but in Estonian when 2 Ne 32:2 says "speak with the tongue of angels" it is only one letter different from "speaking English" ("inglite keeles" vs. "inglise keeles") so when people read fast (as we all normally do) it would come out that way. Everyone always got a good chuckle out of that. There's also one place where "the gall of bitterness" is accidentally translated "bitterness of gall." I don't think anyone can beat Abinadi in panties though!

  10. I think Mormon had a very funny sense of humor, and it comes out sometimes when he's narrating. In addition to some that have already been posted, I have two that always make me laugh.

    In Alma 31, he and a group of missionaries go to the Zoramites to preach the gospel, and find them praying on the Rameumptom. Verse 19 says "Now it came to pass that after Alma and his bretheren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure." Every time I read that, I picture the whole group standing there, with their mouths hanging open in shock, and it always makes me laugh.

    And the other one is also in Alma, chapter 27, where Alma and the sons of Mosiah meet up again after many years of missionary service. Ammon was so happy that he fainted with joy. Verse 19 goes on to say: "Now, the joy of Alma in meeting his brethren was truly great, and also the joy of Aaron, of Omner, and Himni; but behold, their joy was not that to exceed their strength." It's like Mormon had to point out that the others were happy, but not THAT happy.

    I also love when Ammon is preaching to the Lamanites and they all keep fainting all over the place because they're so happy they can't stand it. It's a funny scene, but it's also really touching.

  11. I love the examples given so far.

    I was just laughing (sadly) this past Sunday over the scene where Nephi, son of Helaman, outs the murderer of the chief judge. After this miraculous manifestation, the people begin arguing over him - "he's a prophet!" "No, he's a god!" "Prophet!" "God!" - but neither label prompts anyone to stick around and listen to him. They all leave in disgust, so Nephi ends the act as he began it, all by himself.

    I also find great amusement in Pahoran's deft response to Captain Moroni, whose letters often read like (angry) blog posts. Fortunately, Mormon still loved Moroni, rant-blogger and all, which gives the rest of us some hope.

  12. Has no one noticed the howler in Ether 15:30,31 where Shiz, after having his head smote off, rises up on his hands and struggles to breath? One would think getting your head cut off would hurt more than that.

  13. @Sarah Yes, I especially like the Alma 27 one. And I've always gotten a kick out of the repeated faintings surrounding Ammon's ministry too.

    @Uncle Jim I love the thought of Moroni as ranting blogger--that is perfect! Haha

    @Marv Oh yes, every 10 year old boy's favorite BoM scripture :)

    @All Thanks for all the comments--this has been a wonderful collaborative effort!

  14. I don't think anyone else has mentioned my favorite. It's in Mosiah 5:14, "Doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor? I say unto you, Nay." Ha ha ha. Get it, "Neigh"?

  15. Hahahaha Michemily that is truly glorious!

  16. .

    Did you hear that Emily Jensen featured this post on Today in the Bloggernacle.

  17. @Th I did--once I saw all these awesome comments from strangers I checked my blog stats and traced it back. Do you happen to know how she came across it? Either way, it was much appreciated!