Revelation’s Demand for More Revelation – Reading Nephi – 15:1-11 part I

This post is part of a series of reflections on I Nephi. If you’re interested, the introduction to the series is here. To peruse earlier entries, click the authors tab at the top of the page and then click on my name. I welcome your own thoughts on these specific verses (or on my reflections) in the comments below.

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More contrasts between Nephi and his brothers—although this passage strikes me as less political (i.e., less the older Nephi offering a story of good brothers vs. bad brothers in order to craft a political narrative) and more intimate and personal—although obviously it still fits the bill for the political narrative. Of course we can’t know for sure how the young Nephi felt as these events unfolded, but my heart is wrenched seeing the older, embittered Nephi, the Nephi who has already begun to experience the fulfillment of the visions he’s seen of the family split, the wars, the great loss—the Nephi who is clearly feeling that his loss and burden are “great above all.” From that older vantage, looking back to these events, they must indeed have seemed pregnant with infuriatingly avoidable tragedy and sadness.

I note the conspicuous, reverse-parallel bookends of Nephi’s grand vision:

  • in the wake of hearing Lehi relate his own vision, Nephi desires to “see and hear and know of these things” himself (10:17), and so he goes to inquire of God; this leads directly to Nephi being granted his vision;
  • immediately thereafter the narrative offers us Nephi’s brothers contending over the meaning of Lehi’s vision, and declaring boldly that prayer is vain since God doesn’t make such things known to them.

Before the vision begins, Nephi dwells on the needed aspect of faith, emphasizing a divine and unchanging, ageless pattern for petitioning the heavens to receive greater light and knowledge. After the vision Nephi recreates his conversation with his brothers in such a way that they explicitly articulate the opposite: “No, we have not gone and asked of God, we have not followed the prophetic pattern, because we don’t believe it will work for us.”

It also strikes me as significant that despite Nephi’s paradigmatically faithful and divinely rewarded approach, he is not able to avoid contention; he cannot fail to engage and take part in the hermeneutic battle concerning the meaning of our lives and the meaning of the words of the prophets. The knowledge and spiritual strength we receive from heaven doesn’t give us a pass on the difficult and unavoidable slogging through the epistemic trenches of mortality together with our brothers and sisters. As my mom often told me growing up—“Nephi was a prophet, but he sure didn’t know very well how to deal with his brothers. You can’t act like that.” I hope I can learn from both the explicit and the implicit lessons Nephi teaches here.

I wonder what exactly the brothers were fighting over. They say they can’t understand the bits about the natural branches of the olive tree and the Gentiles. What didn’t they understand? Did they just not have an interpretation of the allegory? I doubt it. It strikes me as far more likely that they simply couldn’t square Lehi’s claims with their own understanding. Theologically, how did all this scattering and grafting in and God working with the Gentiles square with Israelite elitism? Or perhaps it was more practical: what does this mean for us? What does this mean concerning our leaving Jerusalem? Are we going back soon? Or perhaps they felt that the more conspicuous interpretations of Lehi didn’t square well with their leaving permanently? Unfortunately for my curiosity, Nephi doesn’t give us much to go on—we don’t even know if what Nephi goes on to share concerning the topic was actually an answer to the brother’s inquiry, or if it was written more for the edification of later generations of Nephites (my guess is the latter).

On a related note, what is it that Nephi thinks is “hard to understand” without inquiring of God? Is it that the vision and allegories Lehi offered his sons were conceptually or theologically esoteric and thus needed divine revelation to make them comprehensible? Or was it the case that it was hard to implement or really put your trust in them without inquiring of and receiving confirmation from God? The latter seems the more pertinent, timeless question. Following prophets is demanding, difficult business. One needs celestial affirmation to do it well.

(Bonus Question: where is the prophetic passage quoted by Nephi in vs. 11 found? It doesn’t sound like he’s quoting Lehi, but I’m not aware of a biblical passage (Old or even New Testament) that works—though this claim becomes an important theme throughout the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.)

54 comments for “Revelation’s Demand for More Revelation – Reading Nephi – 15:1-11 part I

  1. Jerry Schmidt
    September 4, 2017 at 8:43 am

    My personal understanding of Nephi’s situation is colored by own experience growing up in Utah county. I was quite deliberately raised in a parental/cultural environment based on the writings of W. Cleon Skousen mixed with the John Birch Society. Oddly, there was added to this mix the mediating effects of National Geographic and Time magazine.

    My struggle as the older person isn’t so much with siblings also raised in that environment (though that difference also exists) but with my younger self. My older self has had such broadening of the mind that remembering my younger self, and also encountering a form of my younger self in my youngest son, leaves me staggered as to how satisfied I was with beliefs fed to me by adults in growing up, instead of actually choosing my own beliefs and seeking my own understanding.

    I often feel like how Nephi expresses in this chapter of his narrative. Please do not think I am delusional enough to believe I’m a prophet like Nephi, just his feelings find sympathetic vibration in my own.

  2. Clark
    September 4, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    If as some postulate, Laman and company were Deuteronomists then that might account for some of the conflict over the vision. Particularly the grafting parts. We need to remember that the Deuteronomists were focused on the centralization of the cult to Jerusalem. All the scattered temple and sacrifices outside of Jerusalem were blasphemous. Part of me even wonders if their saying God won’t answer them is tied to God only speaking to the high priest. Lehi is quite at odds with that.

  3. September 5, 2017 at 12:36 am

    Nephi is a master speaker in my book. He is both honest and diligent on important tasks. He literally does make the case for the cause of the righteous nation to call themselves after his name as a symbol of righteousness for a thousand years to come and pass away. Its only Nephi in the story that has power to persuade his wicked brothers into anything righteous. No one else has that ability.

  4. JR
    September 5, 2017 at 7:43 am

    “Its only Nephi in the story that has power to persuade his wicked brothers into anything righteous” But of course it is Nephi telling the story from his own memory of his own perception of events. It is not an omniscient third person viewpoint, though readers often take it as if it were. I have wondered whether Nephi’s reporting how he dealt with his brothers was self-aware and hoping at least some readers would learn the lesson (“Nephi was a prophet, but he sure didn’t know very well how to deal with his brothers. You can’t act like that.”) — or whether it was merely self-confident (self-righteous?). The “Psalm of Nephi” in 2 Nephi 4 suggests self-awareness, at least at the time of its writing. The relative absence of such language of apparent humility elsewhere suggests that, as with many of us, such self-awareness was not a constant in his life or writing. It would be quite unusual in a large-of-stature adolescent eager to please Dad and God, as Nephi was at the beginning of the story. It will be a useful exercise for me to re-read looking for signs of character development in Nephi himself.

  5. September 5, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I dislike the view of people who think Nephi is a self righteous person telling it from only an embelished viewpoint. Thats the spirit of anti-mormon philosophy at its finest. We must take the record as truth.

  6. JR
    September 5, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Why? Why not take it as demonstrating truth? Why not liken it unto ourselves? Why assume that old prophets were any more consistent or infallible or omniscient than those we currently sustain as prophets? Insisting that the Book of Mormon contains no error is contrary to the Book of Mormon itself. It is the “spirit of anti-mormon philosophy at its finest.”

  7. Clark
    September 5, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Rob, I don’t think it is anti-Mormon in the least to assume there is a human element in the Book of Mormon. Moroni explicitly says there is in Ether 12. To simply take it as unmediated truth goes against the book’s claim itself. If God wanted a god’s eye view he’d simply have dictated things. That he instead gives us sermons explicitly written by humans with a focus primarily on human history from the perspective of flawed human beings suggests he has a purpose for doing so. To pretend that isn’t how he arranged the book is to deny God’s purposes in the book. There’s no reason God couldn’t have dictated something the way Muslims believe God dictated things to Muhammad. Let’s take what God gave us seriously rather than pretending it’s something other than what it claims to be.

  8. September 5, 2017 at 11:18 am

    When I read the Book of Mormon I am greatly impressed that the words and viewpoint Nephi uses is as instructed to him through and by the Holy Ghost. Even though Nephi himself sees himself as a sinner and wretched man who so easily is beset by temptations (read 2nd Nephi ch. 4) he nevertheless acknowledges that he writes the things of his soul. Nephis account is the account dictated by the Holy Ghost. I testify of that truth in Christs holy name.

  9. Clark
    September 5, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Sorry Rob, you’re not going to convince me the text is a purely inerrant product of the Holy Ghost when the text itself says otherwise. Is it inspired? Yes of course. But dictated? No and there’s no indication it is and considerable it’s not.

  10. Rob Osborn
    September 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Suppose you tell me where exactly Nephi gets it wrong then and dont just make assumptions.

  11. JR
    September 5, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Essentially the same discussion is happening over at Wheat and Tares among Glen Thigpen and others. Michael Austin’s comment there works well for me.

    I worry sometimes that we don’t know what it means to close a testimony “in the name of” Christ. I wonder if we don’t sometimes put ourselves at risk of having taken the Lord’s name in vain when we do that out of our own limited understanding.

  12. Rob Osborn
    September 5, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    In the most humblest ways I know how to say, I have a firm conviction and testimony of the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. Nephi’s claims and account is as true as his own conviction and testimony of the Savior. We should be very careful that we do not take lightly the words of the Book of Mormons prophets or see them for what they are not. When I testify of something in Christ’s name I do so with full knowledge and conviction to beliefs I know to be true. It is not myself I worry about in regards to the Book of Mormon. I do however worry about those who wish to denigrate Nephi as a prophet of God.

  13. James Olsen
    September 5, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    The response your getting is that in fact your interpretation is the one that:

    We should be very careful that we do not take lightly the words of the Book of Mormons prophets or see them for what they are not.

    Specifically, the worry is that you adopt something like a Muslim dictated-by-God or a Catholic ex cathedra interpretation of the Book of Mormon. Since the Book of Mormon (and Nephi himsel) explicitly eschew this interpretation, this places a burden on you to prove why it is that we should take Nephi’s account to be something different than what it claims to be. Bearing testimony that your interpretation
    is correct—especially when that testimony goes against what the scripture itself claims—is unhelpful.

    There’s a sense, however, in which this discussion reinforces the basic point I see in these verses: that revelation (even dictated revelation) demands additional revelation.

  14. September 5, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Im only defending what it claims to be. Im not throwing my own prejudice in a denigrating matter towards Nephi. Its not about attacking my belief, its about attacking the very claim of Nephi. If Nephi was a self centered self righteous person as some here claim then by all means prove it.

  15. Clark
    September 5, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Rob, it’d be useful if you could point to “claims” in the text rather than claiming testimony on the point. If you are only defending what it claims to be and think that’s “dictated by the Holy Ghost” then you can point to that. I’m betting you can’t. Further you still haven’t responded to the pretty clear claim by Moroni in Ether 12 that it’s not dictated. Why? Because he says, “when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.” That’s explicitly saying it’s not dictated. Indeed he’s concerned about his words.

  16. JR
    September 5, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Rob, Please read. I (and no one else here) introduced the words “self-confident” and “self-righteous”. I used them in a sentence describing what I had wondered, even including a question mark after “self-righteous.” No one but use suggested “self centered.” You have no evidence that anyone here has claimed that Nephi was a self centered or self righteous person, only that I have wondered whether he sometimes was self-confident or maybe self-righteous. I cannot see your comments as defending, instead it seems you are attacking both participants in this discussion and, as some read it, parts of what the Book of Mormon says, as well as demonstrates, about itself. I doubt that is what you meant to do. Your confidence in your “full knowledge and conviction” exceeds mine (in either mine or yours). I learned long ago that my God-given testimony of Christ, prophets, and the Book of Mormon does not mean that I always understand any of them correctly, or that I always know when a prophet is acting as such, etc. While you are committed to your own full knowledge and conviction, I doubt anyone could prove anything to the contrary to you even if you were quite wrong. I don’t plan to try.

  17. JR
    September 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    “No one but you” not “No one but use”. I find more “typos” in my comments here than anywhere else – often simply the wrong word. I wonder if some hidden auto-correct program is doing it or if I am.

  18. Rob Osborn
    September 5, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Do two things, read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and after that read Nephi’s personal testimony found in 2 Nephi ch. 33.

  19. Clark
    September 5, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    The introduction is just that, an introduction and not revealed. Indeed it was recently changed due to the DNA issue. But honestly even ignoring that I don’t see anything in the introduction promoting your interpretation. Also 2 Nephi 33 doesn’t say anything remotely like what Nephi said was dictated by the Holy Ghost. Recall it’s that dictation that is the issue. I’m fine with Nephi’s words being inspired. It’s the idea they’re dictated by God I have trouble with. Note that Nephi actually contradicts your reading. He says in verse 11 “ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.” It’s that weakness that you keep denying. I’m saying that the commandment to Nephi recognized his weakness and the weakness is a key part of what God wants.

    We should probably turn not to the introduction but to the title page, which was given to Joseph Smith. “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God…” That is it doesn’t claim to be an inerrant dictated text. Quite the contrary. And note we’re not condemning the book at all. Quite the opposite.

  20. September 5, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    The weakness Nephi is referring to is his writing. Back in verse 1 he says- ”

    And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.”

    The weakness Nephi is explaining is inability or perceived inability of being a mighty writer.

    “If there are faults” doesnt mean there are faults. It is Joseph Smith himself who states its the most correct book on earth.

    You have yet to provide any evidence that Nephi wasnt telling the actual truth.

  21. Clark Goble
    September 6, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Rob, exactly. That completely falsifies the idea that the Holy Ghost is dictating since that would imply no weakness in writing. Again, remember all I’m arguing against is the dictating theory. I take from your comments you’re backing off from that.

  22. September 6, 2017 at 10:10 am

    I see their weakness in writing as it being both hard, time consuming, and the inability to convey the type of power and authority associated with the voice. It reminds me of listening to the prophet pour out his soul in conference and you can feel that emotion in his voice- the power, authority and spirit but yet when it gets transcribed into words in the Ensign it loses much of that. I see Nephi much the same way. That ideal doesnt take away from the fact that he was still able to capture in words the actual reality and true events that transpired. It is through the HG as it was translated by Joseph Smith that allows the correct spirit to manifest.

  23. Clark
    September 6, 2017 at 10:17 am

    But again, realize that I was responding to your claim in yesterday at 3:06 pm. I certainly don’t have problem with what you’re now saying although I think it wrong to limit it to the difference between writing and speaking in the spirit. However the implication of what you say now is that the Holy Ghost will communicate the main points but since he’s not dictating that implies issues around the non-essential. The text just doesn’t say that the only issue is difficulty in writing but emphatically suggests there are problems but that we are not to condemn the problems. It seems hard to say that not matching speaking power is the sort of problem that would cause people to condemn Mormon or Moroni.

  24. September 6, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Iregardless of those nuances, that isnt the question we were debating. It was whether or not Nephi was a self centered, self righteous being who only saw his perspective and wrote from that flawed perspective. I font buy that at all. I see Nephi as writing that which the spirit is telling him to write and he not only gets it right, but hits exactly on the head the honest reality of events from Gods perspective.

  25. Clark Goble
    September 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    That’s not what I was debating. I also think that’s a mischaracterization of James’ reading.

  26. JR
    September 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    It is also not even what I wondered about, let alone would suggest if I had made any suggestion.

  27. September 6, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Hum….I guess everyone mysteriously forgot what we were discussing. Alrighty, next item I guess.

  28. Nobody
    September 6, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Rob is right about Nephi, but seems to overstate his case a bit. And the article title matches perfectly with my experience having a Joseph Smith level answer to prayer that the revelation brought absolute clarity and equally more questions requiring revelation. This should not surprise… Line upon line.

  29. Clark Goble
    September 6, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    I think Rob is right that in the main points Nephi gets things right. I think he draws from that the conclusion we should assume him right and unbiased about everything, which I don’t think follows. (Not just in this post but he’s made similar criticisms of James’ hermeneutics of suspicion) He asks what Nephi is wrong about, but the whole point of these questions is that we don’t know – we’re looking more at questions we can ask rather than stating answers.

    My sense is Rob only wants a straightforward reading that asks no questions of the sort James asks and just takes for granted everything is as accurate as if it were God describing things. That is that Nephi, Moroni and others are perfect in a way unlike even great prophets like Joseph Smith or Brigham Young who were flawed human beings who made mistakes. Of course it’s easy to see their mistakes because we have fairly robust history written from many perspectives. We simply don’t have that for the figures in the Book of Mormon. We see them worrying about their weaknesses, but Rob will dismiss that we see them as real weaknesses. Now of course it’s theoretically possible all the Book of Mormon figures made no mistakes and had no serious weaknesses. However since I think one of the greatest of the prophets is Joseph Smith and he had tons of weaknesses, I tend to assume we should see Nephi, Jacob and others in similar ways. The problem is again that we simply have very little data. So we can ask the questions, but we can’t really get the answers. Rob, if I have him right, thinks we shouldn’t even ask the questions.

  30. September 7, 2017 at 9:19 am

    It has nothing to do with if Nephi had weaknesses. The scriptures tell us he did. Nephi himself states he is a wretched man easily consumed by temptation. He actually paints a picture of himself as a typical natural man prone to sin like the rest of us. That isnt the point of argument. The point of argument is if he made the record of his accounts from a standpoint of truth through the spirit. I believe he did. I believe he honestly portrays the events as they actually happened. Everything from leaving Jerusalem to going back, killing Laban after the Lord commands him to, to building a ship, sailing the sea and founding his civilization in the new world. More than that though, I believe he is most correct in the status and character describing his family members and himself. I believe Laman and Lemual were the exact characters Nephi portrays them to be. Nothing in the text proves otherwise.

    What I am getting at is that even though a prophet like Nephi may not be perfect, they still can be an instrument in Gods hand to write a record through inspiration by the spirit and get the account correct.

  31. Clark Goble
    September 7, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    But again, I agree with all that Rob. The question is whether important things are left out or biased in their presentation due to his human foibles. That is, whether in terms of narrative there are things going on behind the scenes. A good analogy would be Joseph’s formal history versus the more complex history of Joseph historians give us. Put simply why would we expect Nephi’s history to be more accurate than Joseph’s?

  32. Rob Osborn
    September 7, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    The analogy to Joseph Smith is rather disconnected though. They werent contemporary, they had different upbringings with culture and understandings of life, etc. I believe it to be the spirit of evil to question if Nephi had a bias in his presentation. Its rather interesting that where the rubber actually meets the road you havent yet provided any claim to argue on one of these supposed biases. Produce one so we can discuss.

  33. Clark Goble
    September 7, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    The obvious one you’ve taken umbridge with before is how fairly Nephi presents his brothers.

    To your point about Joseph, shouldn’t we expect Joseph to have more not less accuracy given Joseph is much more of a modern? It seems like you’re undercutting your position there.

  34. Rob Osborn
    September 7, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Just state a bias already.

  35. Kenzo
    September 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Way off topic, but I was unnerved by this glimpse of a new post-Harry Potter dystopia where “umbridge” becomes the accept spelling of “umbrage.”

  36. Clark Goble
    September 7, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Kenzo, I blame autocorrect. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Rob, I’m not sure what you want. Nephi’s bias against his brothers seems rather obvious and pronounced. Further it’s something you’ve complained about specifically in James’ posts before. Why doesn’t it count?

  37. James Olsen
    September 7, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    +1 Clark Goble

    Additionally, a major motivation for my “hermeneutics of suspicion” (aside: I can’t help but be influenced by this and other philosophical methodologies that I’ve acquired over the years perhaps as deeply as a Nietzschean second nature; but my engagement with the text and my musings in these posts are, above all, deeply devotional) is its spiritual worth. I’m not much of one for theories of linear development (though I’m also not one to knee-jerkedly dismiss compelling cultural trends), and I don’t mean to imply that my method of reading is more enlightened than others. But it’s deeply edifying to me, just as I know it is for at least some others. The method that Rob seems to advocate (implicitly and explicitly) simply does nothing for my soul. What’s more, I feel it stymies my growth and learning, it puts up a barrier between me and the lessons that I feel the Spirit has to teach me as I engage the text, not merely with my might and heart, but also my mind.

  38. JR
    September 7, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Thank you, James. I am not convinced I understand Rob and I don’t think he understands what I write. But I am helped devotionally by your musings in these posts.

  39. September 7, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Im not sure where you see the bias with Nephi in regards to Laman and Lemual. Can you show some of this proposed pronounced bias?

  40. Clark Goble
    September 8, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Rob, nearly every one of James posts has discussed this and frequently you’ve comment on them. So I suspect you’re being a bit disingenuous here. My guess is that you’re playing a rhetorical trick and want absolute proof that Nephi was misrepresenting things – which since there’s only one account is impossible. However if you read through the posts in this series I think pretty compelling arguments have been made regarding bias.

    But for an example, how does Nephi represent Laman and Lemuel’s concerns about leaving Jerusalem. Given what we know of human nature, should we assume Nephi’s picture is a complete one? Dealing with 2 Nephi 5, did Laman and Lemuel have a point about worrying about Nephi ruling over them given that he becomes a king? Again, given what Nephi presents of the story, how does that undermine in portrayal of Laman and Lemuel. Most of the things they feared seem to have happened.

  41. September 8, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Laman and Lemual are constantly at odds with Nephi. Laman and Lemual lack faith and obedience and constantly complain. Im going to make an analogy here with my brother whom I look up to and see him as Nephi. My brother (name witheld) is the bishop in my ward. But he is definitely not your normal bishop. Besides his managerial job for a fortune 500 company he finds time to go out and serve his neighbors with almost all of his extra time. Just a quick rundown of some of the things he has done in the past few months- Built two porches for an elderly lady, restructured a caving in roof at a low income housing apartment and also installed a partition between garages and put up a barn door, helped 3 people move, got burned trying to put out a fire that someone started and got out of control, took youth to climb a mountain, took youth down river in a boat for fishing, oversaw a scout eagle project, helped neighbors move cars with his trailer, invited the youth over for several bbq’s, helped negotiate solutions for a failing business, helped fix a neighbors plumbing, moved several fridges for neighbors, spent his own money to help several poor people, in process of the merging of two wards with releases and callings, gave countless blessings at all hours of the day and night, etc…

    He is by far no ordinary man or bishop. He is more like an apostle- a prophet like Nephi. The people love him and the obedient follow his counsel. If we lived in Nephis time he would be similar to Nephi. Extraordinary men do exist, Nephi was an extraordinary man. And on the other hand, in our own ward we have the typical Laman and Lemuals who no matter how much you serve them never really help back but are just continually antagonistic towards the church. They continue to lie, cheat, steal, break the law and yet at times listen a little bit and do whats right for a moment and then back to the same old thing. Even Nephi, from time to time, gained hope in Laman and Lemual but it was in vain as they both quickly returned to their wicked lifestyles. Nephi was no lazy man. Just like my brother, there was always something to do, someone to help, someone to serve.
    Why is it hard for you to see Nephi as an extraordinary man who loved and served his people so much they called themselves after his name for a thousand years?

  42. Clark Goble
    September 8, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Rob, that last line is logically akin to saying, “have you stopped beating your wife.” Your question assumes a false precondition. The reality is that I think Nephi is a remarkable person. If anything, I think him more not less remarkable than you since I think he managed to accomplish the things he deed while being weaker and more human than you portray him. He is far more deserving of praise because of what he overcame for me.

    To the thrust of your question, who is more remarkable? Nephi or Joseph Smith? In Joseph Smith’s history I can find many people like Laman and Lemuel. Now in Joseph’s religious writings, does he represent fairly people like William Law, Thomas Marsh, or Oliver Cowdery given what we know with our broader historical evidence. Now that’s for a person I think greater than Nephi. How should that affect how we read Nephi’s descriptions of people he had conflicts with?

  43. September 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    And yet, why is it that it is the Book of Mormon is our cornerstone and not the D&C?

  44. September 8, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    When one looks at the definition of “bias” its about showing unfair choice of one over another. So I ask- how was Nephi unfair to his brothers Laman and Lemual? In reality its Laman and Lemual that are unfair to Nephi not the other wau around.
    These seeds of doubt people plant are dangerous. If one thinks Nephi was biased and not true, then perhaps Nephi was corrupt, Perhaps then his tecord was corrupt. And if his record is corrupt then certainly other BoM prophets were also corrupt. Perhaps Joseph Smith was corrupt and his religion he started is corrupt. It never stops… and all because of one small seed of doubt, unwarranted at that!
    Theres no doubt that Laman and Lemual felt like Nephi shouldnt be ruler over them. Theres no doubt they feel like Nephi slighted them. Theres no doubt that in their minds they felt justified in wanting to kill Nephi. But were their feelings properly justified in the eyes of God? No. But thats the typical way of wickedness. I dont know how Nephi could more easily explain the way of righteousness and wickedness than to tell the tale of the real events of his family and their dealings.
    Nephi has a lot to say about how both righteousness and wickedness works- how cunning and deceptive its secret plans are on the one hand or how simple and peaceful it is on the other. Not only his account but all the BoM prophets reveal exactly how righteousness and wickedness works.

    Even Nephi speaks of the evils of sin and temptation and the constant need to pray and seek forgiveness, and this from his own dealings. He speaks of faith, of constant searching the scriptures and seeking to know Gods will. On the other hand he tells the tale of those who refuse to put forth the necessary effort to be constantly nourished. It thus bothers me when I see people choosing to make unwarranted claims against Nephi and take Lamans side to perhaps think he was truly justified. I see these types as those who couldnt hold on to the rod of iron firmly enough, yet made it to the tree, tasted its fruit but then were ashamed and turned away.

    Nephi and his record stands as a testimony against all those who seek to denigrate Gods holy prophets.

  45. David Day
    September 9, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks for starting this series up again. I enjoy it and am trying to read the BoMor along with it.

  46. David Day
    September 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    James, are you still reading Hardy’s reader’s edition? You ask about verse 11 and he notes in the reader’s edition that the reference is uncertain. If Hardy thinks its uncertain we are unlikely to be able to identify it. My guess is that its on the Brass Plates but not in the OT.

  47. Clark Goble
    September 10, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    Rob, I’m starting to get the feeling you’re not reading what I’m saying. The reason we got the Book of Mormon where much of it is a combination of interpretations of Isaiah and narrative of flawed people is because we learn more that way than we do black and white legal pronouncements. (Not that the D&C is fully like that – but it’s closer than the Book of Mormon) So it’s Nephi’s humanness that makes the book great and relevant. Speaking only for myself, as inspired as I am by the New Testament reading about how a perfect man acted perfectly is less inspiring than reading how a flawed person got things done.

    To your second point, as predicted, what you want to focus on is the answers. However as I said, we by God’s intention don’t have a god’s eye view of what happened with Nephi. We only have Nephi’s views. There are reasons to think he is biased in how he presents things. That’s the point – not that we have full answers but that by questioning we can better understand what is unclear.

    Finally, to accuse me of denigrating the prophets seems a bit much. As I’ve said repeatedly I find Nephi and Joseph great because despite being flawed people, they trusted in the Lord and even in hardship made it through. That’s not denigrating them. That’s praising them. My problem is that you see any recognition of their weakness as denigration and thus the only view you’ll accept is a twisted idealized version which simply isn’t them anymore. That’s fine if that’s what you need. To me though that’s denigrating them because you have to transform them into something else.

  48. September 11, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Its not me that believes Nephi wrote with a bias against his brothers. Remember, to have a bias means to be “unfair”. You believe Nephis record is biased (unfair) against his brothers. I believe that claim is unwarranted and one that spreads the seeds of doubt and unbelief. In that context, as an LDS, that denigrating Nephi.

  49. Clark
    September 11, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I don’t see how that spreads “doubt and unbelief” in the least anymore than making similar claims about Joseph’s not always being careful who his acquaintances were does. But we’re just going around in circles at this point. To me the main issue is whether we can raise questions about the text to notice things we take for granted but don’t necessarily have evidence for.

  50. Rob Osborn
    September 11, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I feel, as a LDS, that we should take all of the record of the Book of Mormon as truth. I think its okay to try to read some things logically into the text as long as we do not make unwarranted assumptions that spread doubt about the legitamcy of the record. As LDS we have no basis to believe Nephi was biased against his brothers. Nor should we question Nephi’s account as we have no proof nor evidence that his record was flawed. To do so automatically denegrates him and is not right.

    Nephi himself makes the claim that he knows his record to be true. This is coming from a man who by far as greater faith than anyone of us. He was a great man and we should revere him as such and defend his account as honest truth.

  51. Clark
    September 11, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    i.e. take it as infallible unless there’s overwhelming argument against it I assume. I just fundamentally disagree but as I said we’re going around in circles.

  52. Rob Osborn
    September 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Yeah. One can either have faith the Book of Mormon is what it purports itself to be and find the truth or one can be lead about by doubt never coming to the end result of faith.

  53. Clark
    September 11, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    I just disagree that’s what the book purports to be. I think you’ve consistently misrepresented it. You’re projecting onto the book what you think being true entails. The book itself never pretends to be without error. Rather it explicitly mentions the “weaknesses of men.” You’re the one denying there are any. And with that I’ll drop the topic unless you have a new argument rather than simply repeating your premise over and over again.

  54. September 11, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Its a paramount falacy to believe the weaknesses of men means they showed bias in the record. Thats completely off base.

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