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TitleIrony in the Book of Mormon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsRees, Robert A.
JournalJournal of Book of Mormon Studies
Pagination20-31, 111-112
KeywordsAbinadi (Prophet); Alma the Younger; Irony; King Noah; Korihor; Nephi; Rhetoric; Smith, Joseph, Jr.; Sword of Laban

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 passsed 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.


Scripture Reference

Mosiah 12:3