web analytics

1 Nephi 11 – ch. 14

This posting continues to track the Come
Follow Me lessons. This posting shows the 
importance of the scriptures to revelation.
This is, again, an excerpt from my larger 
exegesis of he Book of Mormon. Because it 
is an excerpt, it is not altogether
continuous: it is somewhat disconnected 
in parts. But it would have been unwieldy 
if I had included everything. So this is 
just a taste.

1 Nephi 11–14

Chapters eleven through fourteen contain Nephi’s vision of being carried away to a mountain by the spirit of the Lord or the Spirit of the Lord, and then the spirit or Spirit, depending on the version of the Book of Mormon, asks and answers his questions.

Before consider the questions and answers, it is worthwhile to consider changes made to the capitalization of spirit.

The 1830 edition does not capitalize spirit in any case, including Nephi’s statement that he was “caught away in the spirit of the Lord.” But the 1837 version capitalizes Spirit of the Lord, leaving all other occurrences of spirit lowercase. Likewise, the 1840 edition leaves spirit in all lowercase.

The capitalization of spirit had been changed by the 1921 version as reprinted in 1967. An image of the 1921/1967 version of these verses is shown nearby. All occurrences of spirit are capitalized. As proper nouns—being capitalized—the reference is made to be to a particular spirit. This change in capitalization was made in chapter eleven and elsewhere 1 Making Spirit a proper noun may have been a mistake because it puts a gloss on what Nephi describes in chapter eleven. As a proper noun, Nephi is saying there was an identifiable, particular presence in his vision rather than a generalized, spiritual experience, meaning a divine revelation. Nephi, in other words, may have been using spirit as a vehicle to elucidate the tenor of this revelatory experience.

Another significant change to the language of chapter eleven in 1837 is the change of God to Son of God. Joseph Smith’s First Vision established the Father and the Son as individuals, but the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon refers to the Son by using God; in 1837 God in reference to the Savior was replaced with Son of God, both Eternal Father and Everlasting God were replaced with Son of the Eternal Father, and Son of the everlasting Father. Perhaps, the changes in the 1837 edition were in response to the Trinitarian notions early converts carried with them into the Church..2
The changed language in 2 Nephi 11 from God to Son of God is a clarification that underscores the Old Testament heritage of the book. The God of the Old Testament is Jehovah, Jesus Christ, so context is required to discern whether the word God in the Old Testament refers to the Father or the Son, a problem exacerbated by the elisions of the separateness of the Father and the Son that were done by the Deuteronomists returning from the Babylonia captivity.3

The vision recorded in chapter eleven comes when Nephi “sat pondering in my heart [and] was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain” where the spirit talked to him.4It was like Lehi’s dreams.5Indeed, Nephi records Lehi’s equation that made his dreams visions, “Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision.”6Nephi’s vision, in other words, was a dream. Nephi said as much when he wrote, “as I sat pondering in mine heart [mind] I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord.7 If Spirit of the Lord as capitalized since the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon refers to dream rather than the Lord, Himself, it should not be capitalized.

Whether being caught away in the spirit of the Lord means Nephi was asleep is problematic and, perhaps, irrelevant. What Nephi saw was in his mind’s eye, not something he actually experienced. 8

Nephi says he was pondering something in his mind when he was caught away in the spirit and talked. One should ask, therefore, what it was that Nephi was pondering that provoked this dream about the tree of life. The answer is explicit because Nephi explains the source of the information or what he was pondering that is represented by his vision. It was nothing new. Nephi knew about the plan of salvation because the prophets whose words were recorded on the brass plates explicitly taught the plan. The Son of God is the savior for all the world, for all mankind who follow Him. Nephi knew the Son of God would allow Himself “as a man . . . to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulcher, according to the words of Zenos . . . . For thus saith the prophet: The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel.”9Nephi had the writings of his ancestor, Joseph of Egypt, as well.10 But Nephi’s favorite prophet was by Isaiah, whom he and Jacob quote extensively in Nephi’s first two books. Indeed, Nephi specificially instructed his brother, Jacob, to talk about and explain the writings of Isaiah to the Nephites,11and closes the book of First Nephi with quotes of all of Isaiah 48 and Isaiah 49.12

The tree of life is a common motif in the scriptures, so one must presume this dream was not something particularly new to Lehi or any member of his family. After all, Nephi spent little time explaining to his mindless brothers the meaning of the tree in Lehi’s dream, “What meaneth the tree which he saw?” Nephi answers, “It was a representation of the tree of life.” No explanation. No more question. No discussion. No insight given. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Laman and Lemuel understood the tree of lite motif. They just did not think it applied to them because, like the exiles with Ezekiel, they thought those prophecies of the Diaspora were for a future time.13Moreover, there are unmistakable representations of the tree of life that have been discovered in the in the mid-East.14

Nephi was well educated, so he was sentient enough to understand the application of prophecies to the situation of Lehi and his family. This reality was understood by Lehi, so he, also, was not dreaming anything new when it came to his vision of the tree of life. The realities that Lehi and Nephi saw, reality is reflected in the dream, cast the Lord and angels speaking to Lehi and Nephi rather than as Lehi’s and Nephi’s own thoughts. Metaphysically speaking, however, there is no difference between the word of the Lord and one’s own thoughts if the word—thoughts of the Lord—are the same as the word or thoughts of the individual.15Indeed, it appears that a particular implication is intended when the word spirit is used as a lowercase word in the editions of the Book of Mormon up until the 1921 version.16 The implication is this metaphysical reality of the Hebrews that does not separate the idea of something from the thing. So all things are spiritual in the sense intended by Nephi unless he limits the reality by saying it is temporal.17

Nephi’s vision of the history of the world, the vision of all things,18is not recorded in full. The Lord commanded him not to write it,19because others had and would see this vision and write about it. This vision is described at the center or turning point of Nephi’s book. It is more than a mere interpretation of the vision of the tree of life because it addresses the whole plan and history of the world. It is the Book of Mormon analogue to Revelation the similar revelation recorded by Ezekiel.

Both John and Ezekiel use some of the same symbols found in Nephi’s account of the vision of the tree of life. The tree of life,20the iron rod,21discussion about those who fall away,22the white raiment of the righteous,23a vision of a river of water “proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb,”24and, of course, the vision of the throne of God.25A full appreciation of the revelation given to Lehi and Nephi requires the juxtaposition of their vision with John the Revelator’s and Ezekiel’s.26

Ezekiel’s vision of the temple in the latter days has a remarkable affinity to the vision of the tree of life recorded by Nephi. However, there are some notable differences. These differences, perhaps, are the result of Nephi presuming his readers knew enough about the tree of life they did not need the details given by Ezekiel; this, of course, is speculative but, perhaps, worth consideration.

So here are things to consider. Ezekiel describes the temple and a river running from it.27In fact, he is taken to the temple by a guide where he is shown a fantastic river coming out from under the threshold of the temple; the temple has just been described as the Lord’s throne,28so the source of this river is the Lord. The river flows to the south of the altar and south of the east gate of the outer court. From there, the river flows eastward, getting deeper and deeper: ankle, knee, waist and then too deep to touch the bottom. The river gets bigger and bigger without any apparent tributaries. Ezekiel is then taken back to the bank of the river, observes trees on either side of it and is told by the guide that the river continues to flow eastward into the desert, according to the KJV, or, according to some translations, Arabah, the valley south of the Dead Sea, and that the river flows into the Dead Sea where it makes these waters fresh rather than salty. Ezekiel is told that there will be lots of living things wherever the river flows and that there will be an abundance of fish for fishermen to harvest with their nets. The only thing that will not be healed by the river is the marshes and swamps, which will remain salty. Furthermore, there will be fruit trees on the banks of the river that will bear fruit each month, all year round, without any dormancy. The fruit of the trees will be good food and the leaves will be medicine.

This river was a common figure in Ezekiel’s day; it is found in Canaanite myths, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and, of course, the Bible. This is the river described in conjunction with the Garden of Eden that eventually flows out of the Garden of Eden, but it waters the trees of the garden, including, of course, the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life before it exits the garden,29The river described by Ezekiel flows eastward, the same direction as the river flowing out of the garden, and along its banks there are these miraculous trees, groupings of people who are watered by the river,30the same as the trees in the garden. Isaiah used this same reference to the Garden of Eden when he described the restoration of Israel in the last days:

For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.31

The tree of life, it is helpful to recall, was not located in the center of Eden; rather, it was “eastward in Eden,”32and the river “went out of Eden to water the garden.”33This is directly analogous to the description Ezekiel gives of the river flowing away from the temple or throne of God eastward to the trees.

The trees described by Ezekiel in conjunction with this river should be associated with people in the same way the trees he describes in Ezekiel 17 and Ezekiel 31 are references to peoples and nations. Ezekiel 31:8–9 directly associates the trees described there with the Garden of Eden. The tree/vine metaphor used in the riddle put forth to the Jews in Ezekiel 17 describes the tree planted “in a good soil by great waters” where it was supposed to prosper and bring forth good fruit but was, instead, pulled up by the roots because of its wickedness. Jeremiah, likewise, condemned Jews for forsaking the fountain of living waters and their resulting desolation:

Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 13For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.34

Trees are used by Ezekiel to represent people, so these trees, watered by the fountain of living waters, must be people who so conduct their lives that they enjoy this blessing, unlike those who make their own cisterns for nourishment, meaning they follow after the doctrines of men or the adversary. Interestingly, the tree of life and the fountain of living waters are used synonymously in 1 Nephi 11:25, but the Book of Mormon is unique in its representation of the tree of life as a tree somewhat dissociated with the fountain of living waters. The relationship between the tree of life and the fountain of living waters may have been presumed by Nephi and left, therefore, unspoken.

As is typical of the scriptures, the account of Nephi’s vision is full of important points. This vision was given to Nephi because he was both desirous to know the vision his father had seen, and he was thinking about it, pondering.35This is not something that happened while he was involved in day-to-day activities about the tent of his father because he says he returned to the tent of his father after he had been carried away in the spirit.36Apparently, he had been off by himself thinking about his father’s words in an environment where the spirit of the Lord could visit him. Nephi also observes that the things his father had said were such that they could not be understood “save a man should inquire of the Lord”; in fact, Nephi chastens his brothers for not keeping the commandments and inquiring of the Lord.37
This revelation Nephi received is not something that just happened without effort. It required focus and attention before the Lord responded to his inquiry or, put another way, until things became clear in his mind. Likewise, one cannot assume that an understanding of the scriptures or the words of the modern prophets will be the result of idle curiosity or fleeting attention.

Nephi did not let his desire to know the vision of his father pass without instructing his readers. A parenthetical begins at 1 Nephi 10:18 and runs through the chapter ten. This parenthetical is where Nephi teaches the reader that his experience is nothing exceptional, but something that can happen to anyone who desires to know the things of God. At the same time Nephi cautions that this opportunity to know the things of the spirit also will condemn those who do not diligently seek the Lord, “Remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.”

The Spirit who appears to Nephi—or about whom Nephi thinks—is the Savior, Himself.38The Spirit appeared to him to ask him what he desired, or, using Nephi’s metaphysical paradigm. Nephi asked the Savior. Nephi’s inquiry is followed by an hosanna shout by the Savior to the Father. Nephi’s desire was not granted until he explained to the Savior what it was he wanted.

This interaction with the Savior sets forth several important principles. First, there is a hierarchy the Lord recognizes that puts the Father above the Son. Second, the vision of the tree of life and/or the witness of the Savior was given to Nephi as a sign so he could then bear witness “that it is the son of God.” This is an apostolic calling, apparently, because Nephi sees the Savior and becomes a special witness. In other words, with this vision came great responsibilities. Third, Nephi specifically notes that he spoke to this spirit as a man speaks to a man even though he knew that he was speaking to a spirit. Finally, it is an angel of the Lord that conducts most of the vision, the Lord departing at the beginning with the vision of His birth.

The discussion about the birth of the Savior proceeds at great length and is of primary importance.39This is done in the context of the condescension of God; however, some are confused by the reference to the Son of God in verse 18 as it affects the meaning of God as used in verse sixteen, referring to the condescension of God. The words the Son of were not in the 1830 Book of Mormon; these words were added in the 1837 edition and have remained ever since. The reference to the condescension of God in verse twenty-six in a context that clearly refers to Christ. The confusion introduced by the changed text is whether the first condescension refers to that of Elohim while the second refers to that of Christ.

An analysis of the scriptures, though, leads to the conclusion that the God to whom the scriptures refers is the same person, Jesus Christ. As a beginning place for this analysis, it is important to apply consistent rather than convenient rules of construction to obscure terms, always turning to the original writing to ascertain the intent of the author. One should presume that the use of a term to identify a person or thing identifies that person or thing in all instances unless the context compels a reversion to a secondary rule; secondary constructions like well-he-must-have-meant are nothing more than justifications for conclusions drawn from outside the text, usually based on the prejudices of the reader who wants a particular scripture to say one thing without doing the analysis to see if it really says what is thought. Uncritical thinking usually compels forced constructions and arguments that the seeming ambiguity allows a particular reading that can be supported with a miasma of logic grounded on thoughts and principles outside the scripture—sound reasoning if context and original language are ignored.

Verse sixteen says, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” so the question is immediately asked, based on this scripture in isolation, to whom the scripture refers. Of course, the Mormon perspective says it could be one of two people, and the phrase the Son of God in verse eighteen militates in favor of this conclusion because the Son of God is easily differentiated from the term God, standing alone. One feels safe in this conclusion, but the application of the rule of consistency, applying the same term to each appearance of that term, is violated by the close proximity in verses twenty-six and twenty-seven of God in a context that clearly refers to Christ. This is not what one would expect when this same term, God, is used in what is obviously the same story, a story where one would expect the terms to be used consistently; after all, it is understandable that the terms could be used differently in wildly disparate parts of the book or if written by different authors, but not within virtually the same paragraph.

This inconsistency forces the reader to search for an explanation, so the logical place to turn is an analysis of the use of the term in this same context. Verse eighteen is where the Son of was added; verse twenty-four has this phrase in the original publication and unambiguously refers to the Savior. An analysis of the other terms used in this context show that there are only two other references that could clearly refer to Elohim, and both of these references are in verse twenty-one, “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father.” There are specific modifiers that make it clear that Elohim is the intended reference in this verse, not Christ, so, assuming that the author was consistent in his methodology, one would expect that references to Elohim would have specific modifiers that identify Elohim as the intent of the author.

The reference in verse sixteen does not have such a modifier, and a review of the other uses of the term God in these few verses, verses obviously intended to be read together and understood together, make a construction of God in verse sixteen as a reference to Elohim. The term love of God in verse twenty-two is a reference to the love of the collective represented by the tree in the vision, the tree of life. It is this love of God by the collective that spreads abroad, a metaphor that normally refers to the spreading of the gospel of Christ. The thing that is joyous is the gospel of Christ, and verse twenty-four clearly identifies the individual going forth to spread this joy as Christ.

The word of God that leads to the tree of life as described in verse twenty-five is, obviously, the gospel of Christ, Christ being described as the word that was made flesh and dwelt among us by the first verses of John in the New Testament. Furthermore, right after these references come verses twenty-six and twenty-seven where the reference is unequivocally to Christ.

The conclusion from an analysis of the use of the terms is clear: but for the use of the term the Son of, verse eighteen is misleading because it seems to militate in favor of construing God in verse sixteen as Elohim, but God means Christ throughout these verses. Thus, the overall context of the use of God in verse sixteen militates in favor of construing it to refer to Christ. After all, it is Christ that is both the subject of the entire Book of Mormon and the particular description by the angel in this part of the book. The thought being expressed overall is the condescension of Christ to be a mortal among mortals, subjected to the abuse and ultimate unfair execution.

To construe the reference in verse sixteen as a reference to Elohim would lead to the conclusion that Elohim condescended when he had relations with Mary, but that is at odds with the fact that it was Mary who was translated to withstand the glory in the presence of Elohim, not something that seems like a particular condescension or descent from a position of rank on Elohim’s part; in addition, to consider that the relationship between Elohim and Mary was a condescension detracts from the sacredness of the marital relationship. On the other hand, for Christ to leave his Godhood and become as a mortal is a condescension.

With this thought in mind, the sense of verse eighteen, “Knowest thou the condescension of [the son of] God,” is a clear reference to Christ. More directly, the sense is no different and there is no confusion to the mind schooled in Mormonism if verse eighteen read, “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of Christ, after the manner of the flesh.”

As a matter of fact, the first edition of the Book of Mormon did not use the term the son of in verse eighteen. The addition of the term the son of in verse eighteen was a later, editorial edition that first appeared in the Book of Mormon in the 1837 edition; neither the original manuscript nor the printer’s manuscript from which the original Book of Mormon was typeset used this term. These three, added words were editorial clarifications used to avoid the reverse of the confusion they are now causing: at the time there were very few Mormons that understood that God could refer to either the Father or the Son, so those that were reading the Book of Mormon from their Protestant perspectives would have understood the term God to refer only to Savior; as a result, this particular verse saying that God, which would have been interpreted by the Protestant mind to mean the Christ, was born after the manner of the flesh must have caused sufficient problems to mandate the editorial change made to clarify that the term God as used in these verses means Son of God unless, as in verse twenty-one, there are some modifiers that identify Elohim as the intended meaning. It would not have been supposed that this clarification would cause the confusion that provoked by those reading this verse from a Mormon perspective that allows an unintended confusion because of a clearer understanding of the Godhood of both the Father and the Son; certainly, no one would have thought that the clarification would simply cause what had theretofore been a clear scripture to be misunderstood as saying something about Elohim. In this particular instance and in view of the editorial changes and original writing, it is clear that the term God as used throughout these verses, except as specifically modified in verse twenty-one, refers to Christ.

The explanation given to Nephi about the term tree of life is coupled with a synonymous reference to the term fountain of living waters, and both of these terms are characterized as the love of God. It is the love of God, meaning Jesus Christ, that enables mankind to attain exaltation. It is this love of the Savior that results in the teachings of the gospel, the word of God, meaning Jesus Christ, teachings that point the way back to the presence of the Father. Perhaps, the scripture that best captures the essence of this vision is, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”40 Much of the angel’s explanation of the vision involves Nephi seeing the preaching and teaching of the Savior, the apostles, and those that followed.

The term fountain of living waters is used repeatedly in the scriptures to refer to the salvation that comes through the Savior. One of the condemnations Jeremiah leveled at the Jews was their forsaking of this fountain of living waters and, instead, making themselves “cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” 41

The descent of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove is a metaphor.42
Nephi sees the vision of open heavens with angels descending to help the children of men.43This is a clear revelation that there are ministering angels.

Ten verses are devoted to a discussion of the Bible.44These verses can be read to say that the Bible was would be in a better condition at the time of Christ. But this is a difficult conclusion in the face of the fact that much of the Old Testament language was set at the time of Christ, and it was the LXX version that was used as the scriptures during the time of Christ. Many parts of the Old Testament suffer from apparent changes that occurred during and after the reign of King Josiah in the middle of the 7th Century BC. and there were more changes at the hands of the Deuteronomists returning from the Babylonian exile. For example, the rigid adherence to the law of Moses rather than the higher traditions of the temple and the Holy Ghost are not really present in the Old Testament, but there are indications45that changes in the text distorted the original meaning: the reference in verse Deuteronomy 4:6b to keeping the law as your wisdom militates in favor of this conclusion because Wisdom is an epithet for the Holy Ghost.46In any event, it is clear that the Jews were in the process of departing from the gospel during Lehi’s day and had departed from it by the time of Christ. Maybe our presumptions when reading these verses blinds us to a meaning that is not there.

The general presumption about the Bible is that the Bible is both the Old and New Testaments. Most members of the church, however, do not really read the Old Testament: time spent with the Bible is usually spent in the New Testament. It could be that the book to which reference is made is just the New Testament. It “proceedeth out of the mouth of Jew,” several Jews, in fact, and it would have been prepared in purity,47by the writers of the New Testament. The New Testament text, however, suffered a great deal at the hands of the apostates, which seems like too strong a word, who were left with the New Testament to interpret without the benefit of an enlightened view of the gospel.

As a result, a gloss developed that is sometimes inconsistent with the words of the book, like the notion of the Trinity advocated by St. Athanasius during the fourth century. The glosses put on the scriptures over the years resulted in some significant changes to the New Testament when it was translated into the vernacular. Luther developed the idea of salvation by grace, a doctrine that became the cornerstone of much of the Protestant Reformation; indeed, the translators of the English bible in the early 16th Century were converts to this doctrine, so the language of the King James Version, although more temperate in this regard than the Great Bible of the 1550s, obscures the necessity of keeping the commandments in favor of this more appealing—easier—salvation by grace.

Translations are, by their nature, impoverished commentaries affected by the prejudices of the translators. After all, it is difficult to capture the sense and feeling of language when putting it into a different language if the translation is just mechanical. Even if it is not mechanical, however, the prejudices of the translator will be manifest by the color of word choices and perspective when it comes to replicating the sense of the original text. An example of this problem is illustrated by the term charity, which is a translation of ἀγάπη or agape. This Greek word is unique to the Bible, not appearing in any vernacular texts, so it is a neologism developed by Paul to describe something that is larger than a single English word can embrace.48 The word appears frequently in the writings of Paul, John, Peter, and Jude, but it is variously translated as love or the love (so throughout John), but it is sometimes rendered charity and it is once translated as dear in reference to the Savior, “the kingdom of his dear Son.”49The word in the original Greek as used by the early leaders of the Christian era, in other words, has lost its sense, which is one of the “plain and precious things” taken from the book.

Another example of a loss is found in the book of Hebrews, a tour-de-force on the oath and covenant of the priesthood and temple ordinances and the differences between the covenants or promises made by the Father and the Son. The original Greek casts the Savior as the surety of or the one giving the testamentary bequest that guarantees the promises of the Father that all that He has can be ours if we attain exaltation. The bequest or guarantee or covenant of the Savior is translated from the Greek word διαθηκηdiathk—denoting covenant, especially Abrahamic, or disposition of property, as in a last will and testament. The oath-sealed-promise or covenant of the Father uses a different word, έπαγγελία (epagelia) and έπαγγέλίω (epagelio). These words are often translated as promise or promises,50 but as covenant, as well.51The testamentary disposition of the Savior, διαθηκη, which is translated as covenant and testament,52carries with it the sense of a door being opened that enables one to obtain the blessings of eternal life promised by the Father. Έπαγγελία and έπαγγέλίω carry the sense of a promise set forth in a proclamation, the Father’s proclamation, and διαθῄκῃ carries the sense of a promise or covenant contained in a last will and testament.

Another problem is that the records made by the apostles at the time of Christ almost certainly presented the endowment and priesthood ordinances of the modern temple. Those have been lost.

These examples can be multiplied, but the foregoing are sufficient to show that there are very important and precious things in the New Testament that have been lost to even sophisticated readers. If one does not understand, for example, (1) the essence of the oath and covenant of the priesthood and (2) the separateness of the Father and the Son, then one cannot have a hope of understanding what Paul says in Hebrews. Similarly, one does not comprehend the necessity of striving to live a perfect life to obtain salvation, one cannot hope to appreciate the meaning of a neologism used by Paul that was translated into various English words, e.g., charity and love.

References to the apostles, the Lamb of God, and this book going forth to the Gentiles militate in favor of concluding that the “book of the Lamb of God” from which plain and precious things were lost means the New Testament. Problems with the Old Testament that existed at the time of Christ disqualify the Old Testament because it was not in a condition to go forth in purity.

There is a clear statement in 1 Nephi 13 about the nature of the plain and precious things lost because of the failure to preserve the gospel in its purity. Nephi sees the latter days in vision, including the books that will come forth in the last days to establish the gospel:

And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew, that it came forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren. And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true.

And the angel spake unto me, saying:

These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth. 53

Endnotes

  1. E.g. 1 Nephi 1:7 (Lehi overcome with); 1 Nephi 1:12 (Lehi filled with spirit of the Lord or Spirit of the Lord; 1 Nephi 2:14, 17 (Lehi filled with); 1 Nephi 2:17 (Holy Spirit is capitalized in and since the 1830 version, “the things . . . the Lord manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit); 1 Nephi 3:20 (brass plates contain words of the prophets as delivered by the spirit, 1830 edition, or Spirit, 1920 version, and power of God); 1 Nephi 4 (Nephi led by and obeys voice of to kill Laban and get plates); 1 Nephi 5:17 (Lehi filled with and begins to prophecy after perusing brass plates).
  2. D&C 50 is a May 1831 revelation is at variance with the supernatural notions new converts then and many members now associate with spiritual experiences. Most do not think of a spiritual experience as a thoughtful, insightful, enlightened view of things.
  3. Changes will be discussed in a later posting about Jacob 7, which records Jacob’s return from his retirement to contend with the Sherem, an anti-Christ, who was spreading the false notions of monotheism.
  4. 1 Nephi 11:1.
  5. Nephi records that his father wrote “many things which he saw in visions and in dreams,” 1 Nephi 1:15, and described himself as a visionary man. 1 Nephi 5:4. Lehi’s visions and dreams Include his vision of a pillar of fire on rock as he prayed outside of Jerusalem, 1 Nephi 1:5; his dream or vision where he saws the throne of God, the Savior, and the destruction of Jerusalem, 1 Nephi 1:8–14; the dream where the Lord commanded him to leave Jerusalem or die, 1 Nephi 2:1; the dream where he was commanded to have his sons return for the brass plates, 1 Nephi 3:2; Lehi’s dream or vision of the tree of life, 1 Nephi 8:2.
  6. 1 Nephi 8:3.
  7. 1 Nephi 11:1.
  8. The visit of the Savior to the Nephites after His resurrection, 3 Nephi 11, has a different feel to it than the description of Nephi’s epiphany. It is the difference between a temporal and mental appearance in, coincidentally, two chapters eleven that militates in favor of the conclusion that Nephi’s was not a temporal experience.
  9. 1 Nephi 19:10b–11a.
  10. 2 Nephi 3:4ff.
  11. 2 Nephi 6:4
  12. The quotation of Isaiah 48 in the Book of Mormon is substantial unchanged from the King James Version, but Isaiah 49 is substantially modified by Nephi to liken it to the situation of the Lamanites who fell away the gospel and the Nephites who remain faithful for about one thoursand years. Isaiah 48 is quoted only once in the Book of Mormon, at the end of 1 Nephi, but Nephi and other Book of Mormon writers repeatedly return to Isaiah 49. Why this is will be covered in a posting about 1 Nephi 19–22.
  13. See Ezekiel 12:26–28.
  14. See the figure of the Ezekiel mural from Dura-Europas in the posting about Lehi’s version of this dream and reproduced again here.
  15. Yoram Hazony, The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), addresses the coalescence between thought and object in the Hebrew philosophical construct, which is contrary to the disjunctive treatment in the Greek construct, which infuses Western ideas, of the thought of something from the object. In the Hebrew construct just thinking something is the same as hearing it or seeing it. Moreover, truth in the Hebrew way of thinking is the conformity of one’s words with reality over time, the test of truth. Thus, when the scriptures say the Lord or an angel spoke to a person, the speaking is or may be the same as the person thinking what the Lord would say. And, if true, the Lord or angel would, of course, say that. This difference between Oriental thought and Western thought affects how one must read many things in the Book of Mormon, and this recognition allows one to rationalize or understand what would otherwise seem unbelievable.

    For example, an angel’s appearance and words intervened when Laman and Lemuel were beating Sam and Nephi with a rod during the excursion to obtain the brass plates from Laban, but this appearance seemed not to have the effect one would expect if there was an actual angel who was, in propria persona, chastening the older brothers, because they immediately began to murmur and question how they could get the plates. 1 Nephi 3:28–31. This and other seeming conundrums will be analyzed from the perspective of the Hebrew philosophical paradigm, which makes the reality of what happened perspicuous.

  16. The fair inference to be drawn is that the capitalization in the 1921 and later editions of the Book of Mormon is misleading.
  17. See D&C 29:34 (all things are spiritual to the Lord).
  18. 1 Nephi 14:26.
  19. 1 Nephi 14:18 ff.
  20. Revelation 2:7 and 22:2.
  21. Revelation 2:27.
  22. E.g., Revelation 2:24–25.
  23. Revelation 3:5.
  24. Revelation 22:1; Ezekiel 47.
  25. Revelation 4–5.
  26. Ezekiel 1; 38–39.
  27. Ezekiel 47:1–2.
  28. Ezekiel 43:7.
  29. Genesis 2:8–17.
  30. Ezekiel 47:7, 12.
  31. Isaiah 51: 3.
  32. Genesis 2:8.
  33. Genesis 2:9.
  34. Jeremiah 2:12–13.
  35. 1 Nephi 10:17, 11:1.
  36. 1 Nephi 15:1.
  37. 1 Nephi 15:3, 10–11.
  38. 1 Nephi 11:2.
  39. Begins with 1 Nephi 11:12.
  40. John 3:16.
  41. Jeremiah 2:13.
  42. 1 Nephi 11:27.
  43. 1 Nephi 11:30. 
  44. 1 Nephi 13:209–29.
  45. See Deuteronomy 4:1–9.
  46. See Proverbs ch. 1–ch. 9. Many believe that wisdom is a prosopopoeia, the personification of an abstract idea with the powers of speech rather than an epithet or another name for the person.
  47. 1 Nephi 13:25.
  48. Why I think Paul is the source of this neologism is for another day.
  49. Colossians 1:13.
  50. Hebrews 4:1; 6:12, 13, 17; 7:7; 10:23.
  51. Hebrews 8:6.
  52. Hebrews 7:22; 8:8, 9; 9:4, 15, 16, 17; 10:16, 29; 11:9, 11, 13, 17.
  53. 1 Nephi 13:38–41 (bolding and italics added).

1 thought on “1 Nephi 11 – ch. 14

    • Author gravatar

      Your explanation that the first spirit who appeared to Nephi is the Lord makes sense to me. Most people think that this is the only place in the scriptures where the Holy Ghost appears to someone in the form of a man. But I don’t think the Holy Ghost would appear as an angel. Then, that the Savior departs in verse 12 and another angel guides the rest of the vision, also makes sense to me.

      I also like your thought process on concluding God in verse 16 is the Savior. I wonder if this is something that has evolved with you, because I’ve always read that verse as God the Father, and I thought it was because of you.

      It was also a new insight for me about the last part of chapter 10 being a parenthetical of Nephi instructing his readers about knowing the things of God. And I love verse 17, right before the parenthetical, where Nephi is very clear saying the Holy Ghost is a gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.