Prophets quote other prophets. That’s part of how they teach. This serves two purposes:
- It emphasizes the unity of the word of God.
- It allows the Lord to build upon things we’ve already learned to reveal more truth to us.
During His mortal ministry, the Savior frequently quoted from the scriptures available in His time, particularly the five books of Moses, Psalms, and Isaiah (“What Old Testament books are most quoted by the Savior?” Richard Lloyd Anderson, Ensign, October 1973). When He appeared on the American continent, He introduced himself as “Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world” (3 Nephi 11:10).
The New Testament authors also build upon the teachings of prophets who preceded them. One of my favorite examples is Hebrews 3 and 4, in which the Apostle Paul discusses Psalm 95:7-11. The Bible Dictionary provides an extensive list of quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament.
One of the stated purposes of the Book of Mormon is to convince us that “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Title Page). One way the book does this is by emphasizing the unity of doctrine taught by prophets in different geographical regions and in different time periods.
Some biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon come from the brass plates which Lehi and his family carried from Jerusalem to the American continent. For example, Nephi and Jacob both quoted from the book of Isaiah and then commented on those words (2 Nephi 6:4, 2 Nephi 11:2, 8). Other quotations were given by Jesus Christ during His visit to the American continent, including the Sermon on the Mount (3 Nephi 12-14) and two chapters from the book of Malachi (3 Nephi 24-25). Still other quotations have unknown sources, such as Mormon’s quotation of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in his sermon on faith, hope, and charity (Moroni 7:45), or Moroni’s list of spiritual gifts which mirrors a similar list given by the Apostle Paul (Moroni 10:9-16, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10). Even though we don’t know how they received those specific words, we do know that they had been taught by Jesus Christ and by the three Nephite disciples and that they had seen our day (Mormon 8:10-11, 35).
As President Russell M. Nelson has reminded us, the Book of Mormon affirms truths, fulfills biblical prophecies, clarifies our understanding, and reveals truths which were previously unknown. Quotations from biblical prophets help Book of Mormon authors to fulfill all of these purposes (“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?” General Conference, October 2017).
Today, I will remember that God’s truth is not limited to one region of the world or to one time period. I will be grateful that prophets build upon one another’s teachings, so that we can receive a composite gospel message which transcends the limitations of any single messenger. I will strive to follow their example, by building my own spiritual knowledge on a firm foundation of revealed truth.