This is a series of essays I am calling The And It Came to Pass Project: Essays on Nephite History in Context. The aim of this series is to tell the stories of Book of Mormon people and events within the broader context of Israelite, Arabian, and Mesoamerican history.
And It Came to Pass was chosen as the name of the project because:
- It is a common phrase in the Book of Mormon which even casual readers readily notice and associate with the book.
- Phrases which translate as “(and/then) it came to pass” are also common literary devices used in ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and Mayan writing, thus using it as the title of this project alludes to the major cultures important to contextualizing Nephite history.
- The phrase fundamentally declares that something happened, i.e., it’s historical. As such, by thus naming this project, I am declaring my belief that the Book of Mormon story is something that truly happened—that it came to pass, if you will.
This project is partly motivated by the fact that when most people read history, they don’t read academic monographs or journal articles prefaced with long discussions of methodology and packed with complicated arguments often based on slender threads of ambiguous evidence. They read textbook history in school or popular history for leisure—both genres of history that generally avoid making extensive technical arguments and instead are more narrative driven.
Yet almost everything written about the Book of Mormon and history is of the more technical nature. Scholars have been preoccupied with proving Book of Mormon historicity, instead of writing history that utilizes the Book of Mormon as a primary source. Of course, past work on historicity is valuable in its own right, and was a necessary precursor to this current project. I greatly appreciate the efforts of the many scholars whose work paved the way. I truly stand on the shoulders of giants.
I hope that by writing popular-style, narrative history about the Book of Mormon, the resulting product will be something people will want to read, and that they will enjoy reading it. I also hope that at least some who struggle to believe in the Book of Mormon as history will benefit from reading a believable history based on the Book of Mormon.
I certainly enjoy writing this history, and I know my own testimony has been strengthen through the process of researching and writing. For me, Book of Mormon events have become more real, and individual characters have come alive. I hope these essays bring the Book of Mormon to life for you as well.