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2 Nephi 33, Nephi’s Cri de Coeur

The last chapter: a cri de coeur. This post defines
the word charity, which is borrowed from the Bible. 
It addresses the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost 
when reading vis-a-vis listening to a sermon by using
a fictional work based on Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. 
The fictional work provides insight into Nephi's 
typically abrupt style of writing. This chapter is 
about the importance of following the Savior.

2 Nephi 33

This is the final chapter of Nephi’s three-chapter conclusion to his writings.1Chapter thirty-three is Nephi’s personal testimony and exhortation to those who read his words and ends with amen. Nephi uses two particulars devices in aid of his testimony, chiasmus and anaphora. The three chiasmi at the beginning of Nephi’s testimony are about the importance of Nephi’s writings. These chiasmi are followed by anaphoras, repetitions yielding declamations.

A summary of the message of this conclusion helps maintain focus.

• Decrying the people who do not read the scriptures.2
• Nephi’s love of his people, describing his emotions.3
• Nephi writings to convince men to believe in Christ.4
• Nephi glories in plainness and truth, the Savior and charity.5
• One must be reconciled to Christ and believe on His words, which persuade men to be good, and you shall know that Nephi was commanded to write these words, whom you will see at the judgment bar, and if you do not heed the words, I wish you an everlasting farewell.6

Nephi begins with a chiasmus decrying the refusal of individuals to read the scriptures because they do not care for them. The cognate parts of this chiasmus must be read together to appreciate what Nephi is saying.

A And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people;

B neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking;

C 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.

Cʹ But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them;

Bʹ wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.

Aʹ But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth,7

The statement at level B about writing and speaking probably reflects Nephi’s preference. He was enough of an orator that his writing paled by comparison, so he preferred to speak rather than write. Perhaps, he preferred speaking over writing because he had a captive audience when speaking, and, as level Bʹ explains, people were not disposed to reading. It was and is easy to set a book aside, but the people got caught up when Nephi spoke to them.8

The people may have paid more attention to Nephi’s speaking than his writing because he had more skill in former. Like Nephi, Ether recognized that he was not a good writer, but he contrasted his lack of skill with the brother of Jared’s.

And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them. Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, 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.9

Neither Ether’s nor Nephi’s deprecation of their writing means speaking is more or even as effective as writing. The brother of Jared is a case in point. Moreover, the purpose of written scripture is to overpower the reader, but few have the skill.10

Nephi understood the importance of writing. He repeatedly emphasizes the importance of writings; in fact, the following words appear ninety-nine times in Nephi’s two books: record, plates, writing, writings. Nephi even begins with an account of the record in both the heading to the book and the first chapter. Nephi and his brothers return to get the brass plates.11The importance of the record on the brass plates necessitated the killing of Laban.12Lehi revels about the plates when he reviews them and prophecies of the effect of the records in the latter days.13Nephi explains why he writes his record, filling it with the things of God.14Nephi ascribes the miracle of obtaining the brass plates to the Lord.15 Nephi describes the commandment of the Lord to write sacred things upon his plates.16 Nephi tells the significance of the records of the Jews and the records of the Nephites.17 Instructions on the Liahona were in writing.18 Nephi goes into considerable detail about the making of plates so he can write, by way of commandment, the ministry and prophecies among his people.19 Nephi explained what was written on the brass plates to his brethren.20 Lehi blesses his son, Joseph, to know that a latter-day figure like Moses will have Joseph’s same name and translate the writings of the Nephites. 21Nephi took the records with him and his people when they fled from the Lamanites.22Nephi was commanded to write two separate records, one related to the ministry among the people, sacred things. Finally and perhaps most importantly, Nephi’s explanation of the way to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost requires one to “feast upon the words of Christ.” Nephi says that one who does not “knock [is ] not brought into the light [so they] must perish in the dark.”23 Indeed, the overarching element in chapters thirty-two and thirty-three is the importance of writings, the written scriptures.

The power and importance of writing overshadows Nephi’s disparagement of his own writing skill and his comment about the power of the Holy Ghost to carry the spoken word into the hearts of the listeners. Notably, level B–Bʹ of the first chiasmus in chapter thirty-three is, drawing meaning from the analogues, merely a comment about Nephi’s skill. He says,

[B] neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking—[Bʹ] wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.24

He says the same thing in level C–Cʹabout the power of the Holy Ghost when it comes to oratory.

[C] 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. [Cʹ] But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; 25

The doctrinal point in this first chiasmus has nothing to do with Nephi’s preference for his oratory over his poor writing skills.26The point is the power of the Holy Ghost to enlighten the mind of the hearer or reader. Moreover, it must be that there is more power in the written word because it can be, as required for enlightenment, studied out in one’s mind: read and appreciated and re-read and understood more clearly.

The second chiasmus in chapter thirty-three is a cri de coeur. It describes Nephi’s feelings about his people, and is, perhaps, the only place where Nephi shows his emotions. It is about petitionary prayer.27

A and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them;

B and I cry unto my God in faith,

Bʹ and I know that he will hear my cry.

Aʹ And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people.28

Nephi’s cry to God is what faith is: prayer is what one does because of one’s hope in one’s belief. Nephi’s statement that he prayed in faith means Nephi was not only faithful by the act of prayer, it means he worked to accomplish the desires expressed in his petitions to God. His work? What he wrote.

The third chiasmus says why Nephi’s writings are important. They speak of Christ and persuade men to believe in Him. How people react to Nephi’s work bespeaks the spirit they portray.

A And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them;

B for it persuadeth them to do good;

C it maketh known unto them of their fathers;

D and it speaketh of Jesus,

Dʹ and persuadeth them to believe in him,

Cʹ and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.

Bʹ And it speaketh harshly against sin, according to the plainness of the truth;

Aʹ wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil.29

Following the foregoing three chiasmi are a series of anaphora. These are Nephi’s statements of his focus and his concern or perspective for all people.

I glory in plainness;
I glory in truth;
I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.

I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat.
I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.
I also have charity for the Gentiles.30

The question for those reading Nephi’s writings is whether they, like him, glory in plainness, truth, and the Savior. Likewise, readers should gauge whether they have charity for others. A digression on the meaning of the word charity, therefore, is merited.

Charity is a term of art borrowed from the Bible. It appears twenty-seven times in the Book of Mormon, and each time it alludes to the Bible.31 The Book of Mormon is where the rote definition is found, pure love of Christ.32 Unfortunately, if three words are forbidden (pure, love, and Christ) most cannot explain what charity means, which means, of course, that the term is not understood. Since Joseph Smith used this word to translate what Nephi says in 2 Nephi 33, the reader needs to understand the term.33

The word often translated as charity by the King James translators is ἀγάπη or agape, a uniquely biblical word: it is not found in the works of Philo or Josephus or other ancient Greek works. It does not exist in profane writings. But it is found sixty-two times in the New Testament,

Άγἀπη (agape) is not to be confused with the word that describes love in the social or moral sense, or ἀγαπἀω or agapao.34

Άγἀπη (agape) is not found in Acts, Mark, or James. It occurs only once in Matthew,35and it appears only once in Luke,.36The 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.”37Άγάπη (agape) occurs twice in Hebrews,38 It, also, appears in the Revelator’s exhortation to the saints at Ephesus:

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love [ἀγάπη or agape]. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.39

Charity is not a precise translation of this term because the modern notion of charity is expressed by a different Greek word, χάρις or charis, which carries the connotation of something like a favor that gives pleasure or delight, as in sweetness, charm and loveliness. Χάρις (charis) is a word in use from the days of Homer and has always carried the sense of a master’s kindness toward his inferiors, but it is a word that can be used in a more sarcastic manner to mean the foolish words of inferiors to ingratiate themselves to their superiors. The New Testament writers use χάρις (charis) to describe the kindness God the Father and the Savior bestow upon the saints, the pardon of their offences and the invitation to accept an eternal inheritance through compliance with the gospel of Christ, and it is used in Hebrews to describe what should be the relationship among the members of the early church.40Χάρις is probably the source of the Latin term caritas, which is the source of the English word charity. The idea of philanthropy, the disposition or active effort to promote the happiness and well-being of others, is expressed by the term φιλανθσωπία or philantropia, a term that, also, appears in the Bible.41

Άγάπη (agape), this neologism unique to the New Testament, is translated variously as love in the New Testament, including the two instances where it occurs in Hebrews.42But the word love is s misleading translation. A more appropriate translation would involve the sense of one’s condition when perfected by living the gospel.43 This personal perfection is what should be deduced from the essay found in 1 Corinthians 13. This essay is like the dots of a lithograph or pixels of digital image from which one can see the meaning if one stands back to view the image rather than focusing on the individual dots or pixels. Paul’s anaphoric list of characteristics gives a fuller picture of the meaning of the term, albeit still incomplete:

Charity suffereth long,
(charity] is kind;

charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself,
[charity] is not puffed up,
[charity] Doth not behave itself unseemly,
[charity] seeketh not her own,
[charity] is not easily provoked,
[charity] thinketh no evil;
[charity] Rejoiceth not in iniquity,

but

[charity] rejoiceth in the truth;
[charity] Beareth all things,
[charity] believeth all things,
[charity] hopeth all things,
[charity] endureth all things.
Charity never faileth:44

Moroni’s definiti0n of charity as the pure love of Christ is, of course, accurate. John the apostle and author of Revelation put it this way:

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love [translated from ἀγάπη or agape] of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.45

The term charity must be understood to understand what Nephi means when he uses this term in his concluding chapter. The word love does not capture what is expressed. Nephi is saying he has what is, perhaps, best described by Paul’s example essay on charity, the above anaphora.46The hallmarks of charity describe how Nephi interacted with his people and how he regarded the Jews and the gentiles. These hallmarks are found in an epistle written by Paul after his example essay:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity (ἀγάπη or agape), which is the bond of perfectness.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.47

With this digression on the meaning of charity understood, Nephi’s charity for his people, the Jew, and the gentile and, therefore, his example as well as Paul’s example for people in our day can be comprehended and implemented. Something to strive for.

Readers of the Book of Mormon should strive to be like Nephi because he will meet his readers at the judgment seat, and those who do not follow his admonitions shall be judged therefore. Nephi expresses (1) his hope that his people, the Jews and the Gentiles will be reconciled to Christ, (2) his exhortation to believe his words as the words of Christ, (3) his interim farewell until the judgment bar, and (4) his final farewell to non-believers.48

1. His hope for mankind’s reconciliation to Christ.

But behold, for none of these [meaning his people, the Jews and the Gentiles] can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and

enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and

continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.49

2. His exhortation to believe the words of Christ.

And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ;

and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ.
And [But?] if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—
for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day;

and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar;
and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.

And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.50

3. His interim farewell to believers.

And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.51

4. His final farewell to unbelievers.

And you that will not partake of the goodness of God,

and respect the words of the Jews,
and also my words,
and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God,

behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell

For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar;
for thus hath the Lord commanded me,
and I must obey.
Amen.52

Endnotes

  1. The first chapter of this conclusion, 2 Nephi 31, is a formal, chiastic presentation. It centers on the need to follow the Son so the individual can receive of the Father the Holy Ghost—this is what Nephi describes as the doctrine of Christ—and the chapter ends with amen, a word that balances the first level of the chiasmus. The second chapter, 2 Nephi 32, is not so formal and does not end with amen. Chapter thirty-two is, after all, not something Nephi intended to be scriptural as it was his personal bemoaning and lamentation.
  2. 2 Nephi 33:1–3a.
  3. 2 Nephi 33:3b–4a.
  4. 2 Nephi 33:4b–5.
  5. 2 Nephi 33:6–9.
  6. 2 Nephi 33:10–15.
  7. 2 Nephi 33:1–3a.
  8. The power of speaking rather than writing is exemplified by Adolph Hitler’s power to sway a crowd. Of his oratory, John Toland wrote:

    His analysis of crowd psychology indicated he had read Freud’s Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, published a few years earlier [i.e., 1921] in Germany. “A group is extraordinarily credulous,” wrote Freud, “and open to influence; it has no critical faculty, and the improbable does not exist for it. The feelings of a group are always very simple and very exaggerated, so that it knows neither doubt nor uncertainty.” . . . Ironically it took a Viennese Jew to instruct Hitler that the orator who wished to sway a crowd “must exaggerate, and he must repeat the same thing again and again.”

    John Toland, Adolf Hitler (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976) at 221–222.

    Toland’s observations connecting the oratory of Hitler to Freud’s analysis are timely in today’s political and religious world. Most are not critical listeners, so they are swayed by oratory.

  9. Ether 12:24–25 (bolding added).
  10. The difference between good writing and overpowering writing is the difference between writing factually and writing that goes beyond the facts. Examples of mesmerizing writing abound in fiction. For example, a competent writer can explain that an exhausted Fitzwilliam Darcy drifted off to sleep and dreamed about Elizabeth Bennett (whom he was trying to get out of his mind) while his sister, Georgiana (whom he had recently saved from the intentions of Mr. Wickham and for whom he had hired Mrs. Annesley as a companion while she recovered), played the piano. And the competent writer can say that Darcy spoke Elizabeth’s name while dozing, which provoked Georgiana to awaken him and ask him to tell her, at last, about Elizabeth. Nothing more, really, to learn about this episode, but it is not nearly as skillful as this:

    Georgiana, a loving smile gracing her face, had assumed that responsibility and entertained him with accounts of events at Pemberley during his absence until, noting his fatigue, she had sweetly offered to play for him when their meal was through.

    Sitting back now on the divan in the music room with his eyes closed, Darcy briefly considered his sister’s easy confidence at table and her womanly solicitude for his comfort. Her attention to his mood and need for diversion seemed further evidence of the efficacy of that agency about which Mrs. Annesley had made only inscrutable hints. He made a fleeting attempt to reason it through before he surrendered to the music, allowing it to spread its soothing balm over his weariness. It was not long before he knew himself to be drifting into that seductive otherworld that calls to the unwary caught between wakefulness and sleep. As he listened, too tired to pull back from its borders, the music enveloped Darcy’s attenuated senses and began playing tricks upon them. The figure at the pianoforte shifted curiously and dimmed, gently transforming herself from one dear to him into another, whose dearness in more cogent hours he would not allow. But, at this moment, that dearness seemed perfectly reasonable; and he welcomed her appearance with a languorous smile and a deep, inner sigh.

    Contentment with Elizabeth’s presence in his home, with her ease at the pianoforte playing for him, and with the notion of their companionable seclusion warmed his frame like the effects of a fine brandy. He was sure that if he moved his foot just so he would fetch up against her embroidery basket, and if he had the strength to slide his hand along the divan, he would find her lavender-scented shawl carelessly draped over its back. His eyes still closed, he turned his head and breathed in slowly. Yes. He smiled again; he could detect that reminder of her drifting to him from within its silken folds.

    The music continued from her hand, softly flowing, seeking out all his hollow places to fill them with longing for what only she could bring to him. “Elizabeth,” he breathed, his voice low-pitched as he acknowledged her power. The music hesitated, then continued on its intimate exploration of his emotions. He knew himself to be enthralled, just as he had been at Sir William and Lucas’s, during the ball at Netherfield. He knew it, and rather than pushing it away, he welcomed it with a joy that he now saw mirrored in her eyes. They were strolling through the conservatory, his parents’ Eden, lush with blossoms, and she was whispering of something that necessitated leaning down close.

    “Fitzwilliam.” His name on her lips, so close that her breath fanned his cheek, was a most agreeable sensation. The answering surge of blood through his veins emboldened him to reach for her hand.

    “Elizabeth,” he murmured, returning her whisper with feeling. “Fitzwilliam?” The question in her voice was not what he was expecting, nor was its timbre. “Brother?”

    Darcy’s eyes flew open as, with a jolt, he came back to himself and to the reality of Georgiana perched on the divan beside him, valiantly attempting to suppress the cascade of giggles that threatened to spill over fingers pressed tightly to her lips. He blinked at her, for a few moments unable to comprehend that what he had felt, so real his heart still beat powerfully in response, had all been a dream. He looked desperately beside him on the divan, but no shawl reposed there, nor was an embroidery basket to be seen at his feet.

    Pamela Aidan, Duty and Desire, A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006) at 48–49.

  11. 1 Nephi 3.
  12. 1 Nephi 4.
  13. 1 Nephi 5.
  14. 1 Nephi 6.
  15. 1 Nephi 7.
  16. 1 Nephi 9.
  17. 1 Nephi 13.
  18. 1 Nephi 16.
  19. 1 Nephi 19.
  20. 1 Nephi 22.
  21. 2 Nephi 3.
  22. 2 Nephi 5.
  23. 2 Nephi 32:3–4.
  24. 2 Nephi 33:1b, 2b
  25. 2 Nephi 33:1c, 2a
  26. Jacob writes better than his brother. Nephi’s two books are a series of events from which the reader is required to extract important points. Jacob’s book, on the other hand, makes his points clear by his manner and style of writing. Jacob’s books is like the example in footnote 10,  while Nephi’s is like the factual recitation preceding the quote from Pamela Aidan’s book.
  27. An excursus on petitionary prayer will be posted later.
  28. 2 Nephi 33:3b–4a.
  29. 2 Nephi 33:4b–5.
  30. 2 Nephi 33:6–9a.
  31. The author’s posting about the translation of the Book of Mormon, https://studyitout.com/translation-of-the-book-of-mormon/, addresses the virtually verbatim quotes of the King James Version of the Bible in the Book of Mormon. The word charity appears twenty-seven times in the Book of Mormon, and each reference alludes to a scripture in the Bible: 2 Nephi 26:30 (four times, including what is clearly an allusion to 1 Corinthians 13); 2 Nephi 33:7–9 (three times); Alma 7:24 (once involving an allusion to 1 Corinthians 13); Ether 12:28, 34–37 (six times); Moroni 7, 1, 44–47 (nine times with allusion to 1 Corinthians 13 and the only place in the scriptures where the phrase pure love of Christ appears, which is probably an allusion to 1 John 2:3–5); Moroni 8:14, 17 (two times); and Moroni 10:20–21 (two times).
  32. Moroni 7:47.
  33. The source for what follows is a paper the author presented at a Sunstone symposium at the behest of Peggy Fletcher, the then editor of Sunstone. (She became the much and unfairly maligned editor of the religion section of the Salt Lake Tribune.) The paper traced the development of Paul’s thought as his idea of the gospel matured, resulting in a neologism, ἀγάπη or agape. The purpose of the paper was, at the request of the Sunstone editor, to add balance to what were mostly papers critical of the Church. Something more mainstream. Peggy Fletcher, the editor, told me that Gordon B. Hinckley made this request of her, so she called me. I refused he request at first because, as I told Peggy, I did not want my name on some sort of list in Salt Lake. Then she told me about her interview with Hinckley. So I acceded.

    My concerns about presenting at the Sunstone symposium were merited. My bishop called me into his office a few weeks after the presentation to ask if rumors about me giving a paper at the symposium were true. The bishop wanted to know if I knew what type of magazine Sunstone was and why I would be a part of such a thing. If I could be temple worthy. The bishop was not at all interested in reading my paper. Something was afoot. So I called Peggy. And somehow what I feared might be happening went away.

    I had occasion to talk to Richard L. Bushman one-on-one about his book Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling. I was curious how he had both the respect of the academic community and deference from Church leaders. Commenting on the difference between the openness of Church members to questions in Massachusetts and New York as compared to finality of answers in Utah, he said, “Yes, in Massachusetts and New York we have all the questions, and in Utah they have all the answers.” Bushman gave me good advice, “Go ahead with your ideas, but be humble about it.” I have often been told it is the way I say things, not what I say, that bothers people.

  34. Cp. Luke 11:42 with Luke 11:43.
  35. Matthew 24:12 (“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold”)
  36. Luke 11:42 (“Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over the judgment and the love of God”).
  37. Colossians 1:13.
  38. Hebrews 6:10 (“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love [ἀγάπη], which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister”) and Hebrews 10:24–25 (“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love [ἀγάπη] and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”).
  39. Revelation 2:2–5 (bolding added).
  40. Hebrews 13:9
  41. Titus 3:4.
  42. Hebrews 6:10 (“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister”) and Hebrews 10:24–25 (“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”).
  43. See Colossians 3:14 (“And above all these things put in charity (ἀγάπη or agape), which is the bond of perfectness.”), D&C 88:12 (“And above all these things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantel, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.”)
  44. 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a.
  45. 1 John 2:3–4.
  46. 1 Corinthians 13.
  47. Colossians 3:1–17. Paul probably wrote his epistles to the Corinthians around ad 50. The epistle to the Colossians was circa AD 60.
  48. Nephi’s hope for the welfare of mankind prefigures the personal essay that had yet to be written by Enos, what is record in the Book of Mormon as the book of Enos. Enos presents an exceptional and solitary example of the life that leads to exaltation. Nothing compares to Enos, which should be read from a distance for the picture it paints, not up close lost in the brush strokes. (Using a pericope from Enos diminishes what the book says.) Enos may have used Nephi’s final importuning as the springboard for his personal essay.
  49. 2 N3phi 33:9b.
  50. 2 Nephi 33:10–12.
  51. 2 Nephi 33:13.
  52. 2 Nephi 33:14–15.

3 thoughts on “2 Nephi 33, Nephi’s Cri de Coeur

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      Interesting that you highlight Nephi’s emphasis on speaking over writing because I find the opposite to be true with Joseph Smith. Of course Joseph Smith was known to speak with some degree of power but the Church has never canonized (as far as I know) any of his speeches or discourses. His contemporaries may have thought he was a charismatic speaker, or maybe not. But we as a Church body have never been asked to accept him as such. Instead, we have canonized his writings and revelations as scripture. Even when he speaks in the first person, it isn’t really a talk or discourse but instead revelation for direction that only he heard. In other words, we are inspired by his words on paper not his voice.

      This makes me wonder whether or not he was a gifted speaker. Maybe he was not and maybe he recognized this. Or maybe he was but chose not to communicate doctrine this way. I am reminded of the presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy. Most viewers who watched on TV thought that Kennedy won, but most radio listeners thought Nixon did. Clearly Kennedy was visibly stronger, but Nixon’s words (or word usage) were stronger. Who knows who would have won a written SAT essay contest. Likewise, Joseph Smith was stronger with the written word than he was the fiery speech. Nephi would have respected that.

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      I like the idea of charity as a bond of perfectness. Years ago I studied bonds, such as adhesives and welds, at engineering school. Welds bond two similar, or very similar materials together. Viewing this in this context, charity could be seen as what bonds us to our Father in Heaven. Living the gospel brings us closer to him, welding us together. And welding isn’t easy, it takes a lot of energy, heat, and requires particular processes.

      Another type of bond is an adhesive, which can be used to bond dissimilar materials. At some level, no matter how smooth a surface is (e.g. wood), there are small cracks and inconsistencies. Adhesives such as glue permeate the small cracks of both surfaces and leverage their internal structure to create the bond.

      Interesting to think of charity as a bond!

    • Author gravatar

      Yours is an interesting perspective that had not occurred to me before. I have viewed the word “bond” as an agreement between parties, the Lord and the individual in the case of charity. A bond that binds us to act in a certain way, not because of compulsion, but because of the exercise of our own free will.

      Paul talked about putting on the whole armor of God. The Lord told Joseph Smith, “And above all these things [meaning the litany of characteristics just recited, like those that precede Paul’s bond-of-perfectness statement in Colossians that we are supposed to “:put on”] clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” D&C 88:125.

      And we do bind ourselves to follow the Savior when we partake of the sacrament, which is, in my view, NOT a renewal of any baptismal covenant. (I have been trying to get people to find me a baptismal covenant for years without referring to baptisms before Christ, which, of course, did have covenants that attended them, a subject, perhaps, of another blog posting.)

      But I do like the idea of a weld or adhesive, which is what a bond in my sense does. I like the idea of adhering together because of the glue that binds us to the Savior. Nice.

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