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I have always been fascinated by the many stories and subplots within the narrative of The Book of Mormon, where there are often multiple scenes of action happening simultaneously. Learning this chronology when I was young turned out to be a major milestone towards understanding and appreciating the book.
Some years ago as I was reading through the Book of Mosiah I began to wonder what it would be like to follow the various subplots in a different order. For instance, what would it be like to follow Alma and his people from the land of Mormon to the land of Helam, and all the way to Zarahemla without pausing the tell the story of King Limhi in the middle? Or what would it be like to follow the sons of Mosiah on their mission to the Lamanites, and then come back later to learn what happened to Alma the Younger while they were gone?
After some pondering I decided to map out a reading chart for an alternate pathway through these substories, and I revised it a couple of times as I read through the book. Several people have asked me for a copy of the chart, so I decided to post it on my blog.
Studying The Book of Mormon through my youth was a good preparation for the years of academic work required for my professional training. Thinking through the complex narrative helped me develop the skills that I would later use to learn neuroanatomy and clinical localization. Perhaps my early fascination with the simultaneous subplots was a sign that I was just the sort of geek who was destined to become a neurologist someday.
The flawless and effortless flow of the Book of Mormon through its many story lines is circumstantial evidence that the book is true. Anyone who makes a serious study of the book will intuitively understand that it could not have been written by a poorly educated farm boy like Joseph Smith, and certainly not in the short amount of time and in the hurried circumstances in which it was produced. But the strongest evidence that the book is true comes through the Holy Spirit to the hearts of those who read it with an honest, inquisitive, and prayerful heart. I have felt that witness in my heart, and you can too if you are willing.
Download a printable copy: BOM-alternate-update2020
|Nephi – History|
|Nephi – Doctrine|
|Jacob to Amaleki|
|Zeniff to Noah|
|Alma the Elder|
|Amaleki to Mosiah|
|Zarahemla to Sons of Mosiah|
|Mission of the Sons of Mosiah|
|Mosiah to Alma the Younger|
|Alma Counsels His Sons|
|Amalickiah and Captain Moroni|
|Helaman and the Stripling Warriors|
|End of the War|
|Helaman to Nephi|
|Visit of Christ|
|Early Church to Apostacy|
|Writings of Mormon|
|Writings of Moroni|
NOTE: I have updated this post to include links to the chapters and verses on https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/scriptures/. I have corrected a few errors in the chart. Please use the Contact Page to report broken links or other problems.
3 replies to “The Book of Mormon – Alternate Chronology”
I want to explain one thing I noticed when I looked over the reading chart recently, which is the placement of Jacob chapter 7. I have always considered chapter 6 to be Jacob’s final testimony, and chapter 7 to be something like an appendix. I wanted to organize the chart so that Jacob’s final testimony was read last of all. Chapters 4-6 are a continuous narrative, so I had to place chapter 7 before chapter 4 to maintain that story line. We often forget that chapters 4 and 6 are so closely tied together because chapter 5 is so long that we rarely read all three chapters in one sitting.
I was recently validated in my placement of chapter 6 by Elder David A. Bednar, who quoted verses from that chapter among “final teachings of great prophets in the scriptures.” (See https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/chosen-to-bear-testimony-of-my-name?lang=eng)
I just found a really nice Book of Mormon reading chart which outlines the narrative structure of the book: http://nathanrichardson.com/2013/10/structural-chapter-reading-chart-for-the-book-of-mormon/. Enjoy!
Glad you’re finding it useful! I’ve also posted structural charts for the other standard works. You can find them all listed in my handouts section: