Alma 13


I know that one of the phrases in Alma 13:1 is sometimes confusing. It has Alma telling the people to “cite” their minds “forward” to a time that is clearly in the past, both for us and for Alma. Why?

It seems clear to me that when he says “forward” he does not mean forward from Alma’s time, like looking forward to a coming of the Messiah. He is telling a story, which up until now has focused on Adam and Eve. Now he wants the people to think of something else, something that came after Adam and Eve. “Let’s fast forward in the story a little…” to the time that God sent prophets. That is the sense of Alma 13:1.

In chapter 12, Antionah asked Alma how it was possible for someone to live forever if the Tree of Life was guarded by an angel. Alma first answers the question by explaining that it was necessary for man to die, but that God had planned on it and set up a plan of redemption. This he made know to men by angels. He promises that men can enter into his rest. In chapter 13, Alma gives a second explanation of how God saves mankind. He explains that at some point, God decided to call prophets and ordain them to teach the people. They teach, and many become clean and enter into the rest of God.

The overall structure of Alma’s discourse makes the phrase “cite your minds forward” clear and unproblematic.

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