As a tangent to my study on Priesthood in D&C 84 and elsewhere, I decided to look for a bit at how the Nephites talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost. First, did they talk about it as “the gift of the Holy Ghost,” and second, how was the connection between that gift and priesthood understood? So far I’ve only looked at Nephi and Jacob’s writings.
Nephi talks quite a bit about the Holy Ghost. His sermon in 2 Nephi 31-33 refers a lot to when Christ received the Holy Ghost after baptism, and asserts that we can have that same gift after our baptism too. There isn’t talk of a Melchizedek priesthood ordinance for that gift, but neither is there talk of receiving baptism through the priesthood either. That’s not to say they didn’t; it’s just to say it’s assumed in the case of baptism and so likely in the case of the Holy Ghost.
I say likely, because of how often Nephi says that the Father will give this gift. Baptism is something you seek after, but the Holy Ghost is something you receive. And it’s mostly it’s connected with the Father. It’s a gift He gives you (promises you, even).
The other thing I’ve noticed so far is that the Holy Ghost is connected with receiving knowledge. Glance through this search result list: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/search?lang=eng&start=21&end=30&query=Holy+Ghost&sort=chronology&testament=bofm and you’ll see how often Nephi and Jacob talk about knowing things through the power of the Holy Ghost. It was pointed out to me this weekend that elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, the gift of the Holy Ghost is listed alongside other spiritual gifts, whereas we tend to think of the gift of the Holy Ghost as the initial gift that allows for all those other gifts to be manifest. Perhaps there’s reason to see how the Nephites saw that gift and to see how it changes our understanding.
Also, Nephi’s discourse in 2 Nephi 31-33 talks about being able to speak with the tongue of angels. What is it about this gift, in the way he understood it, that allows us to talk with and like an angel? how is this different than the way we talk about the gift? Are we talking about the same gift? It would seem so, since both come after baptism. But in Nephite terms, it’s a gift of the Father that baptizes us with fire, and if we deny him after receiving this gift, it would have been better to not know him.
More study to do…