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About Stephen D. Ricks

Stephen D. Ricks completed his BA in Ancient Greek and MA in the Classics at Brigham Young University, and then received his PhD in ancient Near Eastern religions from the University of California, Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. While completing his doctoral work he spent two years studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is now professor of Hebrew and Cognate Learning at Brigham Young University where he has been a member of the faculty for nearly thirty years.

A Nickname and a Slam Dunk: Notes on the Book of Mormon Names Zeezrom and Jershon

Nicknames and Dysphemisms in the Bible and Ancient Mediterranean

Even in the Bible, nicknames and dysphemisms—expressions whose connotations may be offensive to the hearer—are not rare and were equally so in other parts of the ancient and early medieval world. In 1 Samuel the ungenerous husband of Abigail rudely refused hospitality to the men of David, greatly angering them. David and his men were so incensed at his offense against the laws of hospitality that they intended to punish him for his boorish behavior before they were dissuaded from their plan by Abigail (1 Samuel 25:1-35). Shortly thereafter the husband died suddenly and mysteriously (1 Samuel 25:36-37). To all subsequent history his name was given as “Nabal,” which means either “churl” or “fool,”1 a rather harsh nickname that might also shade off to a dysphemism. Continue reading


  1. Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament tr. M.E. J. Richardson (Leiden/New York: Brill, 1995), 2:663-64. 

A Note on Family Structure in Mosiah 2:5

Mosiah 2:5 provides the reader of the Book of Mormon with new insights about Israelite-Nephite family structure. In a passage set during what John A. Tvedtnes has persuasively argued is the Feast of Tabernacles,1 we read: “And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest.” Continue reading


  1. John A. Tvedtnes, “King Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles,” in By Study and Also by Faith, ed. John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 2:197-237. 

Some Notes on Book of Mormon Names

The Book of Mormon as an Ancient Document:
Proper Names as a Test Case

Abstract: This study considers the Book of Mormon personal names Josh, Nahom, and Alma as test cases for the Book of Mormon as an historically authentic ancient document. Continue reading