In accordance with this year’s theme, I have chosen to look at D&C 10:43. To review, D&C 10 records God’s explanation that those who possess the “lost 116 pages,” as we call them today, are planning to alter them and prove that Joseph is a fraud. As is well known, God replaces these missing pages not with a retranslation, but by repurposing the small plates. Now. Verse 43 itself reads, “I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.”
Much has been written on this verse. It gives hope to those who worry about the evil in the world. It boosts confidence in God’s foreknowledge. And it’s always pleasant to review the stories where the good guy’s intelligence is unquestionably greater than the bad guy’s. 🙂
However, I think this word “greater” gets us a little distracted. Surely, God’s wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil. But, what exactly do wisdom and cunning have to do with each other? That is, have we thought through what brings these two into relation? Is wisdom simply a higher form of cunning? (*Mosiah 24:7) Is wisdom superior intelligence? Is it synonymous with God’s foreknowledge? My questions would likely be answered with a simple “Yes.” Or, “Karen, it doesn’t really matter — what matters is that God is shown to be greater than the devil.”
In a sort of foil-like reversal, Latter-day saints are set on proving God’s superiority, much like the holders of the 116 pages were set on proving Joseph’s dishonesty. And this can sometimes result in a one-track interpretation, when we study verses in the Book of Mormon that talk about the “wise purposes” of the small plates. For example, one commentary says, “The Lord in His omniscience had the second record, the small plates, cover the exact time period that was covered in the stolen 116 pages… The loss of the manuscript clearly demonstrates why the Lord commanded Nephi to write the small plates and why Mormon was inspired to include them.”
While undoubtedly a crucial use of the small plates in the end, it seems like an insufficient summary of the “wise purposes” of the small plates.
In what follows, I will look at verses in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants that discuss “wisdom” or “wise purposes” in relation to the small plates. By doing so, I hope to provide robust interpretation of how God’s wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.