Chapter 20: Joseph Smith's Vocabulary
Chapter 20: Joseph Smith's Vocabulary
Joseph Smith—History is a seventy-five-verse excerpt from what ultimately became the first five chapters of the seven-volume History of the Church. Joseph’s words describe his feelings about his experiences. His simple elegance engages readers intellectually and draws out sympathetic emotions. He wrote this history in 1838, eight years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, eight years after the organization of the Church, eight years after he and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, three years after the calling of the Twelve Apostles, and about the same time he moved from Ohio to Missouri.
My purpose here, and I have been waiting nineteen chapters to share this information, is to list unique words spoken by all persons quoted in the Joseph Smith—History, including the first-person words of Jesus Christ; Moroni, who quoted Malachi’s unique words; John the Baptist; Martin Harris; and Oliver Cowdery, all of whom Joseph included in his autobiographical account or, in Oliver’s case, attached to it.
The Lord is quoted with four unique words during Joseph’s First Vision: creeds, doctrines, draw, godliness.
When Moroni instructed Joseph, he quoted scripture. One excerpt was from Malachi, who used nine unique words: branch, burn, dreadful, oven, promises, proud, root, stubble, wickedly.
John the Baptist’s four unique words are confer, fellow, Levi, Priesthood of Aaron.
Martin Harris helped Joseph and Emma financially, bears partial responsibility for losing the 116 manuscript pages, took some of the Egyptian characters to New York and showed them to two professors for authentication, mortgaged part of his farm to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon, and was one of the Three Witnesses. Having a sample of Martin’s writing style and vocabulary adds to this word study. His unique words from verses Joseph Smith—History 1:64–65 are ARABIC, ASSYRIAC, ATTAINMENTS, CELEBRATED, certificate, certifying, CHALDAIC, correct, DR. MITCHELL, literary, pieces, POCKET, presented, PROFESSOR ANTHON, respecting, sanctioned, sealed, TORE.
Oliver Cowdery was Joseph’s scribe for almost all of the Book of Mormon. Oliver also copied the original manuscript a second time as a backup known as the printer’s copy. Most of the time, this printer’s copy went back and forth to and from the E. B. Grandin shop as the Book of Mormon was typeset. Oliver was one of the Three Witnesses. He was also one of the scribes for the book of Abraham.
He and Joseph were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist and to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John. He was the Second Elder of the Church, second only to Joseph. A sample of Oliver’s flowery, effusive style and vocabulary contrasts sharply with Joseph’s simple and elegant style, adding veracity to this word study. Oliver’s unique words are
ABODES, admired, amazement, AMID, anxiously, aside, assurance, awakened, BASED, beauty, bestow, BIGOTS, blaze, BLOTS, BRILLIANCY, buried, CALUMNY, canter, carefully, CARRIES, certainty, clothe, comprehend, concealed, CONDESCENDED, corruption, craft, current, danger, deception, defer, design, dictated, dispelled, distracted, doubt, easy, ELOQUENCE, embraced, ENKINDLED, ENTERTAINING, especially, EXPRESSION, faces, falsehood, favored, fellow-men, fervent, FICTION, flowed, forgotten, forward, FROWNS, future, GAZED, GIDDY, glitter, goodness, GRATITUDE, grave, GROPING, gross, humble, immediate, INCIDENTS, INSIGNIFICANCE, INTERESTING, interpreters, INTRODUCTION, Jacob, LIQUID, MAJESTIC, mansions, mass, message, Nephites, noise, ON A SUDDEN, PAINT, perfection, permitted, pierced, PRACTICED, precise, racked, RAY, REALIZED, reflecting, resting, seduce, senses, sentence, shine, sober, stepped, STRIKES, SUBLIME, SUNBEAM, supersede, sustained, swells, SYSTEMS, thanksgiving, UNCERTAINTY, UNINTERRUPED, UNSULLIED, UNTAUGHT, utmost, waited, wall, willingness, wonder, wrapped.
We have reached the pinnacle of the unique-word study. To have all the facts current in your mind, review the graph of the number of unique words for each of the fifty-eight Book of Mormon persons on pages 12–14, and then review the graph below of the twenty-seven persons in the Pearl of Great Price with unique vocabulary. The only individual for whom there has not been a unique word list to this point is Joseph Smith. You will note his name and his number of unique words at the bottom of the graph below. You will think it is a typo.
Person Quoted or Speaking in First-person
Number of Unique Words or phrases
Moses (as redactor)
God (in Moses)
Jesus Christ (in Moses)
Lord (to Abraham)
Matthew and Jesus Christ
John the Baptist
Moroni quoting Malachi
No, not a typo. Joseph’s 477 unique words come from the 75 verses in Joseph Smith—History. He authored no other scripture. Of the 58 persons with unique vocabularies in the Book of Mormon and the 27 persons with unique vocabularies in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph has by far the most unique words by word count and by percentage. Here is the list of his unique words. Of the 477 words, 152 are unique in all scripture and are shown below in solid capital letters.
(Scribes and editors can have influence on dictated documents and original drafts. There is evidence that Sidney Rigdon and George Robinson helped Joseph write the autobiographical account we know as Joseph Smith-History. We also know that in 1839, James Mulholland copied the words into Joseph’s manuscript history and that Willard Richard edited the account. How much these men influenced the published account is unknown. (See The Heavens Are Opened Exhibit at the Church History Museum, page 38.)
Abandon, ABOVE-MENTIONED, acquainted, ACTIVE, ACTUAL, ACTUALLY, ADDRESSED, ADMIDST, adversary, affected, AFFECTIONATE, AFFIRM, afflictions, AFOREMENTIONED, ALERT, allowed, aloof, ancient, ankles, ANNOYER, ANXIETIES, appeal, appearing, approaching, around, ARRANGEMENTS, arrival, arrived, ascended, ASSERT, ASSOCIATED, astonishment, attain, attended, attention, ATTRACT, AUTHORS, bed, BEDSIDE, BEHAVIOR, BETOOK, BIBLES, board, bottom, bound, bows, breastplate, brightness, BRILLIANT, building, carelessly, CAUTION, cement, certain, chapter, character, charge, charges, CHEERY, CIRCULATING, CIRCULATION, circumstances, classes, CLERGY, clothing, cock, combine, comfortable, commenced, commit, common, communication, company, CONCLUDING, conclusion, condemnation, condemned, conducted, conduit, confession, confidence, confusion, consequence, considerable, CONSTITUTED, contempt, contending, CONTESTS, continuing, CONTINUOUS, convenient, conversing, conversion, convert, converted, converts, COUNTERACTED, county, CROSSWAYS, CROWED, daily, DARED, day’s, deal, decided, defense, defy, DELUDED, DENOMINATIONS, deposited, DESIGNED, desires, desolations, despair, DESTINED, determination, different, DIFFERENTLY, digging, directed, directs, DISABUSE, DISAPPEARED, discover, dishonest, displayed, DISPOSED, disposition, DISPROVE, distinctly, DISTINCTNESS, DISTRICT, DISTURBER, Divine, divine, division, doctrines, dollars, doomed, during, duty, earthly, edge, edges, ELEVATED, elsewhere, employed, enabled, endeavoring, ENDEAVORS, enemy, enlightened, enough, ENSUING, entirely, equally, errors, establish, EVERYBODY, EVIL-DISPOSED, exactly, EXCITE, EXCITED, EXCITEMENT, EXERTING, EXERTION, EXERTIONS, EXHAUSTED, experienced, EXPLANATIONS, expressed, exquisite, EXTRAORDINARY, extreme, failed, FAITHS, FALSEHOODS, FARMED, feeling, feelings, feet, fence, file, finally, FIREPLACE, floor, FOIBLES, forbade, force, forced, former, FREQUENTLY, friend, friendly, friends, GENTLEMAN, glorify, glorious, GRADUALLY, guilty, happened, heavenly, heavy, helpless, HIGH STANDING, HIRING, human, IMAGINARY, imperfections, importance, impossible, IMPRESSIONS, INCESSANT, increase, INDUCED, infancy, influence, INFLUENCED, informed, INQUIRERS, INQUIRIES, instantly, instruction, intelligence, intention, intentions, INTERRUPTION, INTERVENED, INTERVIEWS, INTOLERABLE, invented, IRRELIGIOUS, join, joined, JOVIAL, kindly, kindreds, kinds, kneeled, laboring, labors, lack, lacked, latest, Latter-day, lay, leaned, least, legs, length, LEVER, LEVITY, liberally, lighted, lighter, lightly, lightning, limited, lips, loose, mad, maintained, maintenance, MALIGNANT, manifestation, manifested, married, marveling, marvelous, meaning, MEANTIME, meditation, meetings, mentioned, messenger, middle, MILITATE, MINGLING, MOBBED, MOBBING, MOBS, MONEY-DIGGER, MOTIVE, multitudes, musing, mysterious, native, nearly, necessary, necessity, neck, neglect, neighborhood, noonday, object, obscure, obtained, obtaining, occupied, offend, OFFENSIVE, opinions, opportunity, opposed, opposition, organization, otherwise, overwhelmed, OWING, part, parties, PARTY, passages, period, permit, persecute, persecuted, persecution, person, Personage, personage, PERSONAGES, persons, pestilence, pillar, plates, POIGNANT, pointing, ponder, popular, precisely, PREJUDICE, preparing, PREVALENT, previous, previously, PROBABILITY, proceedings, PROFESSORS, progress, promised, PROMOTING, proper, prophecies, PROSELYTED, protected, protection, providence, public, quite, QUOTED, QUOTING, reading, READS, reality, reclaimed, RECOLLECT, RECOLLECTS, recovering, REFLECTED, REFLECTION, region, rehearse, rehearsed, relate, related, relation, RELATIVE, RELIGIONISTS, religious, REMOVAL, render, REPEAT, REPLIED, REPORTS, required, resided, RESIDENT, resorted, RESPECTABILITY, respecting, RESPECTIVE, RESPONSIBLE, retired, returned, reviled, reviling, RIDICULED, robe, ROUNDING, RUIN, RUMOR, safe, satisfied, SCANTY, scarcely, scene, school, scripture, scriptures, SECTARIAN, SECTS, SEEMINGLY, seized, serious, service, SETTLING, several, severe, shortly, silver, SINGULARITY, sink, society, somewhat, sooner, source, start, started, state, stir, STRANGENESS, stratagem, STRENUOUS, strict, success, suffering, sufficient, supplication, suppose, surprised, teaching, telling, TEMPERAMENT, tempt, temptations, tenets, thick, THINNER, THOUSANDTH, threatened, TOWNSHIP, translating, transpired, treated, tumult, UNABLE, UNACQUAINTED, UNCONSCIOUS, UNDERTAKING, UNEASINESS, united, unlawful, UNSEEN, UNUSUAL, upbraid, upbraided, upbraideth, USUAL, VARIATION, venture, verse, village, visited, VOCALLY, VOCATIONS, VOLUMES, wasted, weakness, whiteness, withstand, woods, worldly, WRIST, wrong, zeal, zealous.
As mentioned, the 152 words in capital letters listed above are not found in the Old or New Testament, the Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants, which is astounding enough. But what about the other 345 words? So many of them are normal, everyday words. I wondered if the majority of Joseph’s unique words would also be in the Book of Mormon. So I looked up every word again to check. Of them, 238 are not found in the Book of Mormon but are in either the Old or New Testament or the Doctrine and Covenants!
The math looks like this: 152 words in Joseph Smith—History are not found in the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, of Doctrine and Covenants, and 238 more are not found in the Book of Mormon. Adding 152 and 238 together means that 390 of Joseph’s unique words are not found in the Book of Mormon. Simply stated: Joseph’s own vocabulary is not the vocabulary of the Book of Mormon. Also, as already shown, Joseph’s own vocabulary is not in the book of Moses or in the book of Abraham. The evidence is phenomenal. These three books of scripture which came through Joseph Smith are not in his vocabulary.
Just in case anyone is interested, here is the list of the additional 238 used in Joseph Smith—History that are not found in the Book of Mormon:
Above-mentioned, active, actual, actually, addressed, admidst, affected, affectionate, affirm, aforementioned, alert, allowed, aloof, annoyer, anxieties, arrangements, arrival, assert, associated, attract, authors, bedside, behavior, betook, bibles, board, brilliant, carelessly, caution, chapter, character, cheery, circulating, circulation, clergy, cock, comfortable, concluding, conclusion, confession, consequence, constituted, contests, continuous, convenient, converts, counteracted, county, crossways, crowed, dared, decided, defense, deluded, denominations, designed, desolations, destined, differently, directs, disabuse, disappeared, disapprove, dishonest, displayed, disposed, distinctly, distinctness, district, disturber, divine, Divine, dollars, doomed, earthly, edges, elevated, elsewhere, enabled, endeavors, ensuing, equally, everybody, evil-disposed, exactly, excite, excited, excitement, exertion, exertions, exhausted, experienced, explanations, extraordinary, failed, faiths, falsehoods, farmed, fence, file, fireplace, foibles, forced, frequently, gentleman, gradually, high-standing, hiring, imaginary, impressions, incessant, induced, influence, influenced, inquirers, inquiries, instantly, intelligence, interruption, intervened, interviews, intolerable, invented, irreligious, jovial, kindly, lack, lacked, latest, Latter-day, leaned, lever, levity, lighter, limited, malignant, meantime, meditation, mentioned, militate, mingling, mobbed, mobbing, mobs, money-digger, motive, musing, native, necessity, neighborhood, noonday, obscure, occupied, offensive, opinions, organization, overwhelmed, owing, party, passages, permit, personage, Personage, Personages, poignant, precisely, prejudice, prevalent, previously, probability, professors, promoting, proselyted, public, quite, quoted, quoting, reads, recollect, recollects, recovering, reflected, reflection, relation, relative, religionists, religious, removal, repeat, replied, reports, resided, resident, respectability, respecting, respective, responsible, ridiculed, rounding, ruin, rumor, scanty, scarcely, school, sectarian, sects, seemingly, settling, singularity, strangeness, strenuous, surprised, temperament, tenets, thickened, thinner, township, tumult, unable, unacquainted, unconscious, undertaking, uneasiness, unlawful, unseen, unusual, upbraid, upbraided, upbraideth, usual, variation, verse, vocally, vocations, volumes, woods, worldly, wrist.
Another interesting word study in Joseph Smith—History, although they are not all unique, is the list of proper nouns. These 77 words are in addition to the 477 unique words:
Aaron, Aaronic, Acts, Almighty, Alvin, Agrippa, Bainbridge, Baptist, Bible, Book of Mormon, Carlos, Catherine, Chenango, Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day, Saints, Cowdery, December, Divine, Don, Elijah, Emma, Epistle of James, Gentiles, Gospel, Hale, Harmony, Harris, Holy Ghost, Harrison, Hyrum, Isaac, Isaiah, Joel, John the Baptist, Joseph, Josiah, Lord, Lord of Hosts, Lucy, Mack, Malachi, Manchester, Martin, Messiah, Methodist, Methodists, Moroni, Oliver, Ontario, Palmyra, Paul, Pennsylvania, Personage, Personages, Presbyterian, Presbyterianism, Samuel, Satan, Savior, Sen., September, Sharon, Smith, Solomon, Sophronia, Spaniards, Squire, Stoal, Susquehanna, Tarbill, Testament, Thummim, Urim, Vermont, Wayne, William, Windsor, York.
I find it impossible to explain where the Book of Mormon, the book of Moses, the book of Abraham, and even the changes to Matthew 23–24 came from except by the gift and power of God through Joseph—prophet, seer, and revelator. The unique vocabularies in the Book of Mormon testify that the Book of Mormon is not written in Joseph Smith’s vocabulary. The unique vocabularies in the Pearl of Great Price prove that the Pearl of Great Price is not written in Joseph Smith’s vocabulary. Moses’s words are Moses’s, Abraham’s words are Abraham’s, Nephi’s are Nephi’s, Mormon’s are Mormon’s etc., etc., etc., and the only words in Joseph Smith’s own vocabulary are those he wrote himself about his life in the twelve pages now found in the book titled Joseph Smith—History.
(c) Marilynne Todd Linford, 2017
(c) Marilynne Todd Linford, 2017