Book of Mormon

Week 24: Jesus Christ’s ministry to the Nephites, part 1

3 Nephi 8–18

16 April 2020


Additional reading and links

John W. Welch explains that everything in 3 Nephi, especially the ministry of the Savior, echoes themes related to the temple and the presence of the Lord in the Holy of Holies. Welch, “Seeing Third Nephi as the Holy of Holies of the Book of Mormon,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 19, no. 1 (2010): 36–55.

The great destructions and thick darkness in the Book of Mormon lands described in 3 Nephi 8 have all the indications of intense volcanic activity. Several Latter-day Saint scientists have written about this; their conclusions are summarized in these brief articles from Book of Mormon Central:

Immediately before Jesus’s appearance at the temple in Bountiful, the people there “were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place great” (3 Nephi 11:1). What was this “great and marvelous change”? Clifford Jones argues that it refers to “the essential, infinite change wrought by the Atonement.” (Jones, “The Great and Marvelous Change: An Alternate Interpretation,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 19, no. 2 (2010): 50–63.)

When Jesus appeared at Bountiful, “the whole multitude” of the people there “fell to the earth.” (3 Nephi 11:12) This description echoes Lehi₁’s dream of the tree of life, in which he saw “multitudes” of people who “did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.” (1 Nephi 8:30) For more on the connections between these two passages, see Matthew L. Bowen, “‘They Came Forth and Fell Down and Partook of the Fruit of the Tree’: Proskynesis in 3 Nephi 11:12–19 and 17:9–10 and Its Significance,” Studies in the Bible and Antiquity 5 (2013): 63–89.


On 21 May 2011, the Grímsvötn volcano on Iceland erupted, filling the air with ash so dense it completely blocked out all light in the nearby town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. This video, taken at noon the next day, shows how thick the cloud was. This event closely matches the Book of Mormon’s description of “the vapor of smoke and of darkness” (3 Nephi 8:20–22; 10:13) which enveloped the Nephite lands.