Evidence #254 | October 12, 2021

Word Count

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Scripture Central


When viewed in conjunction with several other factors, the Book of Mormon’s impressive length (more than 269,000 words) strengthens Joseph Smith’s claim to have dictated it by the gift and power of God.

As far as its length is concerned, the Book of Mormon is a formidable document. The 1830 edition contains 269,320 words and occupies over 580 pages of printed text. The Yale edition of the Book of Mormon, which attempts to get as close as possible to the original wording of the text, has 269,518 words.1 Despite regularly translating the book for hours on end, it still took Joseph Smith about 60 working days to complete the task of its dictation.2

On its own, the length of the Book of Mormon isn’t especially remarkable. Many authors have produced longer works. Its length becomes much more interesting, however, when it is considered along with several other factors, including its complexity and consistency,3 lack of substantive revisions, rapid production timeline,5 unique production manner (oral dictation without the use of notes or manuscripts),6 as well as Joseph Smith’s limited formal education,7 lack of prior literary experience,8 and relatively young age.9

This chart shows how Joseph Smith's production of such a lengthy text so early in his career as a writer/prophet is quite different than the trajectory of most other prominent writers. Image via Brian C. Hales, “Curiously Unique: Joseph Smith as Author of the Book of Mormon,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 31 (2019): 172.

After comparing the Book of Mormon with a variety of other texts using several of the above criteria, including length, Brian C. Hales reached the following conclusion: “overall, it appears that if Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon from his own intellect, his efforts as an author stand out as curiously unique.”10 In other words, no other author of comparable age, education, and literary experience is known to have produced such a lengthy, complex text in such a short amount of time under similarly constraining circumstances. Thus, when viewed in conjunction with other factors, the text’s impressive length strengthens Joseph Smith’s claim that he translated it by the gift and power of God.

Brian C. Hales, “Curiously Unique: Joseph Smith as Author of the Book of Mormon,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 31 (2019): 151–190.

Book of Mormon

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