Fans of the Book of Mormon may better appreciate its literary depth and the intricate relationships between its characters after reading "In His Footsteps: Ammon₁ and Ammon₂" by Val Larsen for The Mormon Interpreter.

If you're a fan of the Book of Mormon who has studied it for years, you might, like me, be vaguely aware that there are two Ammons in the Book of Mormon. "Oh, right, there were two, I think." Did you ever bother to examine parallels in their lives? Ever explore what major events in their day, such as the union of Nephites and Muleites with all the tensions related to that, might have meant for them? Me neither. But Val Larsen shows that by taking the Book of Mormon seriously and looking at its characters as real people with off-stage lives, we can find far more depth and meaning.

He looks at the parallels between the two Ammons and finds evidence of deliberate literary tools being applied to reveal important principles through the parallels in their lives and work. He also draws meaningful insights by considering the significance of the Mulekite-Nephite tensions and what that would mean for them. He partially relies on the important discovery that the Amalekites in the Book of Mormon are probably actually the Amlicites of Alma 3, one of the most interesting recent finds from scholar investigating the Book of Mormon and revealing that the text is much "smarter" than Joseph Smith. See my post here, "Amlicites = Amalekites and Joseph = Translator, Not Author," which discusses the work of Christopher Conkling, "Alma's Enemies: The Case of the Lamanites, Amlicites, and Mysterious Amalekites."

One of my favorite points that Brother Larsen makes is that when Ammon, a son of Mosiah, is replaced by Aaron in visiting and teaching the grand Lamanite king, the father of King Lamoni, what we have is the oldest brother of Ammon and the rightful Nephite king who declined the throne now teaching the great and rightful Lamanite king. Cool symmetry.

Read Larsen's article and let me know what you think. Some of it is speculative, but there's no doubt that there is much more to the Book of Mormon that most Latter-day Saints have realized, and the intricacies and literary depth of the accounts in question helps illustrate that point.
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