Don’t Bypass “And It Came To Pass”

By David W. Allan (updated 28 May 2018)

PREFACE by Pat Ament
It is wonderful and exhilarating to see a true Saint in action, to see how David Allan, distinguished scientist, investigates the scriptures and with his own work, coupled with help from the Spirit, uncovers mysteries. He is the example for those of us who peruse the scriptures and read many of the same passages again and again at a surface level and rarely or never go deeper. The following essay shows how it is done, as Dr. Allan examines the variations of “It came to pass” (did you know there were variations?) and learns the hidden meaning of each. The scriptures come alive in the hands of the true seeker and are never boring. [1]

The magic of phrasing is appreciated by a linguist, and our story begins with a gifted linguist back in 1971 when the Book of Mormon was critically needed in the Afrikaans language in South Africa.  To meet this need, the mission president, Harlon Clark, reached out to Professor Felix Mijnhardt of Pretoria University, a member of the Dutch Reformed Church.  He declined because he knew his university and church would not appreciate him helping the Mormons.

That night in his prayers, the Spirit convicted him.  Professor Mijnhardt had been asking the Lord for a special task to use his linguistic skills, and the Spirit whispered that the Lord had given him the Book of Mormon to translate and he had declined.  After a sleepless night, he called President Clark the next morning and told him he would do it.

As was his manner, he did not start at the beginning of the book to translate it.  He went to the middle of the book and immediately recognized and was astonished to find out that the Book of Mormon was not authored in English.  With his linguistic gift, he felt that the best approach would be to translate it from English back into its original language and then from that language to Afrikaans — at least at those places that were difficult.  In this way he would have more accuracy in the translation.

He spent months trying several different languages.  He “finally tried Egyptian,” and said, “To my complete surprise, I found that the Book of Mormon translated flawlessly into Egyptian, not modern, but ancient Egyptian. I found that some nouns were missing from Egyptian, so I added Hebrew nouns.” [2] Then he started his translation and was touched to the core of his soul when he read, “I Nephi… make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and language of the Egyptians.”  While sharing his experience in a Stake Conference in Johannesburg, he said, “I could have saved myself months of work if I had just begun at the beginning,” and that he knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God when he did the translation. [2]   Jokingly, he further said, “How many Englishmen write or say, ‘And it came to pass.’”  Everyone laughed. [2]

Professor Mijnhardt felt called of the Lord to perform this important translation. [2] According to the Professor’s on statement, he was probably the only one on the planet at that time that knew English, Hebrew, ancient Egyptian, and Afrikaans fluently. [2]
While reading the Book of Mormon, after learning of the Professor Mijnhardt story, several phases seemed to jump out at me that were non-English-like.  I felt to study the phrase, “And it came to pass,” as one of them.  In all of our scriptures, there are over 1,400 occurrences of this phrase, and I was surprised to learn that the occurrences in the Book of Genesis (61% of the chapters contain it) are about the same as the Book of Mormon, where 63% of the chapters contain this phrase.  Chronologically, I found a significant decrease in the usage of this phrase.  Taken as a whole, only 22% of the Old Testament chapters contain this phrase, and it reduces to 13% for the New Testament.  Interestingly, Joseph Smith uses it zero times in the personal-modern revelations he received, whereas, both the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price contain significant usages of the phrase.

Also, in the New Testament, only the synoptic gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) use this phrase.  These gospel writers use ancient records to show the Hebrews, the Romans, and the Greeks that Jesus is the promised Messiah.  Peter, James, John, Paul, and Jude use it zero times.  If we plot the data, we get the following trend:

None of the modern English translations of the Bible preserve the phrase, “And it came to pass.”  Only the King James Version preserves this unique and important phrase — thanks to all the King James translators and to the inspiration of William Tyndale.  An amazing 90% of the KJV New Testament is Tyndale’s English translation. [3]

From this information, I thought of a hypothesis.  Suppose this phrase, “And it came to pass,” had its origin in the Adamic language.  I noticed with further study that usage in both the eastern and western hemispheres declined over time.  For example, the last prophet in the Book of Mormon, Moroni, uses it only two times in the ten chapters he authors, while the earlier prophets use it at a much higher rate.  As you will see, those “two times” can be shown to be very significant.

The next question is, “How can one test this hypothesis?”  Realizing that the Jaredites did not have their language confounded at the Tower of Babel, I felt to study the Book of Ether.  That book was translated from a language closest to the Adamic language of any scripture we have.  To my delight, I found the highest rate of use of this phrase in the Book of Ether, and the phrase is contained in 100% of the chapters in this recorded history of the Jaredites.  There are 160 occurrences of this phrase in this Book — the highest rate in all of scripture.  On average, every other verse contains the phrase, “And it came to pass…”

In contrast and as a fascinating aside, Moroni, who placed the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon, as mentioned before, uses the phrase only twice in all of the ten chapters that he personally writes.  The two times he uses this phrase are an inspiring example of how all the scriptures tie together; for “the Lord knoweth all things.” (1 Nephi 9:6)  These two occurrences are like a flag being waved before us, as Moroni saw our day when the Book of Mormon would come to the Gentiles and many of them would reject it:
And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity.  And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. (Ether 12:36-37)

Next, in the Lord’s doings, we see how these two verses of Moroni’s tie to the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.  We may ask the question, “Did Moroni see the martyrdom as well and put these verses there for them?”  He saw our day, and certainly the Lord could have inspired Moroni so to do or Joseph Smith, as a seer, in the translation of these two verses. John Taylor, who was with Joseph and Hyrum when they were martyred, wrote the follow: [4]

When Joseph went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretended requirements of the law, two or three days previous to his assassination, he said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me—he was murdered in cold blood.”—The same morning, after Hyrum had made ready to go—shall it be said to the slaughter? yes, for so it was—he read the following paragraph, near the close of the twelfth chapter of Ether, in the Book of Mormon, and turned down the leaf upon it: And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. And now I … bid farewell unto the Gentiles; yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force. (Doctrine and Covenants 135:4-5; the bolding is mine.)
Now, if we plot the data including the Jaredite’s usage, we get the following:

Also, when the phrase is used, I noticed it to be an important past historic event.  Can you think of a more important historic series of events than the birth, life, ministry, and perfect atonement of our Savior?  As Luke shares the story of His birth, we read, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” (Luke 2:1)

After I had learned the above, a good friend of mine, Lee Nelson, called and told me of the work of the late Professor Leonora Leet, who received her Ph.D. from Yale and taught English at St. John’s University.  In her book, The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah, Recovering the Key to Hebraic Sacred Science, she shares that the phrase, “And it came to pass,” has a gematria [5] equivalent to “EL” or God and ties to past events.  In other words, God is telling us some very-important-past event when we see this phrase.  Since I had already deduced this from my study of modern scriptures – along with the Bible – her work based on the ancient Hebrew is like a second witness.

I further learned from Professor Leet that the phrase, “And it shall come to pass,” has a gematria [5] equivalent to Jehovah and ties to future events.  When I learned this, I immediately went to our scriptures and found 157 occurrences of this new phrase, and they fit her model perfectly, which she had deduced from ancient Hebrew writings as well.  Her work is like a double second witness tying ancient scripture to modern scriptures through these two phrases.”

As you look at which prophets use the phrase, “And it shall come to pass,” you find those who “have prophesied” of our day and of the coming of our Lord.  For example, while Joseph Smith uses “And it came to pass” zero times, and Isaiah uses the phrase only three times in the 66 chapters of his book around important historic events, they both use the phrase “And it shall come to pass” extensively.  It is as if there is a hidden book of scriptures in our scriptures that could be written around the phase, “And it shall come to pass,” to better help us prepare for the coming of our Lord.

In September 2015, I was re-reading the Book of Mormon again and I discovered a third phrase.  The phrase that stood out to me was, “And now it came to pass.”  This phrase, along with the other two phrases, brought to mind the Lord’s definition of truth, “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24) We see the following correspondence to this profound definition of truth:

And now it came to pass                   corresponds with         things as they are;
And it came to pass                           corresponds with         things as they were; and
And it shall come to pass                  corresponds with         things as they are to come.

Observing these three matchings, I thought of another hypothesis.  Could these three phrases tie back to the Adamic language and the Lord’s definition of truth?  As we study all of the scriptures, we observe that these matchings are consistent throughout – as given to us by the Lord in both ancient and modern times as well as in both the eastern and western hemispheres.  It is like a fingerprint of the Lord, interspersed throughout all of scripture, logically tying back to the first language and to His definition of truth, as given in modern times in the Doctrine and Covenants 93:24.

We see from the above graphs, and the studies leading to them, both inductive and deductive evidence that the phrase, “And it came to pass,” may well have its origin in the Adamic language.  The exact phrase, “And now it came to pass,” occurs only in the Book of Mormon, as we study the LDS scriptures.  The Book of Mormon preserves the phrase “And now it came to pass” perfectly as translated by the gift and power of God.  It is as if God is saying that the Book of Mormon is My Truth “now” to tie the past (Bible) scriptures to the future scriptures that “shall” come forth, as with the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and many more that are promised the righteous in conjunction with the Lord’s Second Coming.

Two of the profound uses of the phrase, “And now it came to pass,” are chapters 11 and 19 of Third Nephi.  Chapter 11 recounts the most important event of the book as the Savior descends from the Heavens and begins His ministry here in America.  Chapter 11 starts with this phrase.  In Chapter 19 Mormon captures the great event of these people becoming a Zion people (purified through their faith in Christ).  This chapter is an extremely important example for us of a people who were filled with the light of Christ.  In Jesus’ last great High Priest prayer as recorded in John Chapter 17, He prayed for this to happen.  In Third Nephi Chapter 19, Mormon records how it happened. Chapter 19 also begins with this phrase, “And now it came to pass…”

If we relax our search so that the word “now” and the phrase “it came to pass” are all that is required in a sentence or a verse of scripture, then we add 21 occurrences in the Bible and 42 more in the Book of Mormon.  In about half of these occurrence, the phrase starts a chapter both in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  Furthermore, these occurrences line up perfectly with the Lord’s definition of truth, “things as they are,” and commences telling of an important current event.

As we study the phrase, “And it shall come to pass,” we find that the most significant users of this phrase are Isaiah (22), Jeremiah (7), Ezekiel (4), Hosea (3), Joel (2), Zachariah (6), Nephi (23), Abinadi (8), Jesus (7), Peter (2), Paul (1), Mormon (2), and Joseph Smith (25) as they have prophesied of our day and of the Second Coming.  Notice the Savior uses it seven (7) times.  This is significant for me, because as I have studied the Lord’s arithmetic, seven is the number of perfection or completeness.  (For example, see the following link to appreciate the seven steps for completing the perfect and infinite atonement:  Seven Steps to the Atonement.  Some may say that (7) is just a coincidence, but I have learned that the infinite love the Lord has for us brings Him into the details of our lives and certainly in the scriptures.  As you read those seven occurrences, where the Savior uses this phrase, you will see what I mean.

I was fascinated when I observed that the Savior did not use the phrase, “And it shall come to pass,” in chapters 11 through 19 where He is ministering to the Book of Mormon people.  But in chapters 20 onward, where he is talking to us, the Gentiles, and all the other tribes of the House of Israel, He starts using this phrase, as he shares very important future events that will  happen in conjunction with the time leading up to His Second Coming.  Since He knew that this record would come to us in our day, these occurrences of this phrase as they are gives another validation of the fingerprint of the Lord.

Furthermore, the usages of these three phrases illustrate a grand harmony between ancient and modern scripture.  The phrase “now” + “it came to pass” stretches across several books in both BC and AD time periods and both the Eastern and Western hemispheres.  They are not unique to a particular prophet, but illustrate the consistent fingerprint of the Lord.  Joseph Smith could not have known all of the above information.  Divine design and the inspiration behind all of the scriptures is manifestly evident.  The probability that these three phrases occur as they do by chance is essentially zero.  We have in them three witnesses.

As you read the scriptures henceforth, you will find who uses these phrases, as well as how they are used, is both inspiring and fascinating and a direct validation of God’s truth.  I believe that studying the scriptures with these three phrases in mind will better prepare you for the glorious coming of our Lord and Savior; “And it shall come to pass.”  We learn that we live in the most exciting time in the history of mankind. [6]  I am pleased that LDS Living has picked up on this part of my book and can be found at the following link. [7] Notice the fascinating prophecy that the Book of Mormon will “convince… them of my word,” [the Bible], since most American scientists now believe the Bible is a myth. (2 Nephi 3:11)  See also my talk on where we are in God’s TIME. [8]

REFERENCES:
[1]       Pat Ament is a dear friend of nearly 50 years.  He is a world-famous rock-climber, has published 39 books, over two hundred magazine articles, and is an excellent writer.  He was the 2013 inductee into the Boulder Sports Hall of Fame.  He has provided great help in editing this article.  He is also a poet, an artist and a pianist.  He has given me an honorary doctorate in the above preface.  I was working on my master’s degree when I was called into church leadership, which gave me the privilege of being Pat’s stake president.  I received a bachelor’s degree in physics from BYU in 1960; then we moved to Boulder, CO, to get a doctorate at the University of Colorado.  It never happened, but the Lord has more than made it up to me, because my Master’s Thesis is used in characterizing atomic clocks around the world and was used in the development of GPS.

[2]       Journey to the Veil by John Pontius, compiled by Terri Pontius, pp 144-148.  John was a missionary and heard Professor Mijnhardt share his experience in the Stake Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. (See also March 1973 ENSIGN regarding this translation event)

[3]       Read William Tyndale’s biography by S. Michael Wilcox, Fire in the Bones, pp 78-80

[4]       To learn how Joseph Smith, as a seer, translated the Book of Mormon, read From Darkness unto LIGHT, Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon by Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat.  The Joseph Smith Papers Project has given us many new perspectives, insights, and historical clarifications.

[5]       See page 12 of Professor Leet’s book and the following link for the meaning and use of gematria:http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_Eight/Hebrew_Gematria/hebrew_gematria.html

[6]      Brian Newbold, Professor of Engineering at Snow College, was also a missionary in South Africa and wrote in his journal about the Professor Mijnhardt translation experience.  I have his story and many more details in my book for those interested:

www.ItsAbouTimeBook.com  Appendix B, Appendix M, and Appendix Q, available for free at this site, give many more details about these three phrases as well as sharing a large number of the scriptures in which these phrases are used.  This article, “Don’t Bypass, ‘And it came to pass,’” is also available as Appendix R at this link: https://itsabouttimebook.com/religious-science-translation-of-it-came-to-pass/

[7]       http://www.ldsliving.com/The-Powerful-Book-of-Mormon-Phrase-We-Always-See-but-Never-Think-About/s/81070

[8]       https://vimeo.com/265478706

Click Here: Don’t Bypass “And It Came To Pass”update” 1 PDF

Click Here to purchase David W Allan’s book, “It’s About Time”.