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Gramps,

So apparently Jesus appeared approximately one year after His resurrection.  But when you read 3 Nephi, it seems like it just happens.  (“the people looked around and saw the change to the land (or something like that))  Can you please give a proper timeline of exactly how long it was between Jesus’ resurrection to the visit with the Nephites?  Thank you.

Tim

 

Answer

 

Dear Tim,

The scriptures rarely give us enough information to narrow things down to closer than a few years, which is why dates in history often include “circa” (meaning “approximately”) and a year rather an actual date.  However, the Book of Mormon account does give us a general idea – it’s just woven into the text such that it’s easy to miss.  So, let’s look at what we can tell from 3 Nephi.  First, in chapter 2, we learn that the Nephites changed from counting time from the beginning of the reign of the judges to counting from when the signs of Christ’s birth were given:

7 And nine years had passed away from the time when the sign was given, which was spoken of by the prophets, that Christ should come into the world.

 

8 Now the Nephites began to reckon their time from this period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ; therefore, nine years had passed away.

Next, in Chapter 8, we learn that the signs of Christ’s death came.  In the chapter heading, it indicates that the chapter covers approximately AD 33 – 34.  In the text, we read (emphasis mine):

2 And now it came to pass, if there was no mistake made by this man in the reckoning of our time, the thirty and third year had passed away;

 

3 And the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land.

 

4 And there began to be great doubtings and disputations among the people, notwithstanding so many signs had been given.

 

5 And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.

So, Christ’s death happened on the fourth day of the first month of the 34th year since Christ’s birth, according to the Nephite calendar.  In chapter 9, while the three days of darkness are still occurring, the people hear Christ’s voice.  We must assume that this was while Christ was in the spirit world.  In chapter 10, after “the space of many hours”, Christ speaks a little more.  Then Mormon returns to summarizing what happened after this.

Then finally, at the end of Chapter 10, we find this (emphasis mine):

18 And it came to pass that in the ending of the thirty and fourth year, behold, I will show unto you that the people of Nephi who were spared, and also those who had been called Lamanites, who had been spared, did have great favors shown unto them, and great blessings poured out upon their heads, insomuch that soon after the ascension of Christ into heaven he did truly manifest himself unto them—

 

19 Showing his body unto them, and ministering unto them; and an account of his ministry shall be given hereafter. Therefore for this time I make an end of my sayings.

As you can see, it wasn’t until the end of the 34th year that Christ showed himself to the Nephites – roughly a year from the signs of Christ’s death.  Mormon summarized everything in between these two events, thus making it easy to miss the fact that almost a year had passed.

The account of Christ’s appearance begins in chapter 11, where the heading indicates that it’s AD 34, but of course, it doesn’t say what month this was.  Based on chapter 10, we can assume it was at or near the last month.  The account of Christ’s visit spans several chapters and multiple days, perhaps even weeks.

And then, at the start of 4 Nephi, after the account indicates Christ’s visit to the Nephites was complete, and after Mormon had written some of his own thoughts, he returns us to an account of the people just after Christ’s visit:

1 And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost.

This and the chapter headings of the later chapters in 3 Nephi lead me to believe that all this happened at the end of the 34th year and perhaps a little at the start of the 35th year.

I hope that this helps to clarify the timeline for you, and also that it reminds you, as it did me, that the answers we seek are often there in the scriptures, but we must watch for them carefully, and often we must search for them.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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