Author Archives: Karen

Nephi re-purposing 2 Ne 1

It’s odd that when Lehi gives his last, fatherly blessings to his children, there isn’t one for his son Nephi. 2 Nephi 1 is addressed to his “sons” generally, but the majority seems clearly aimed at Laman and Lemuel. 2 Nephi 2 is for Jacob, 2 Nephi 3 is for Joseph, and the first part of 2 Nephi 4 is for Lehi’s grandchildren (Laman’s children, then Lemuel’s children). Even Zoram gets a few verses near the end of 2 Nephi 1. Perhaps there was a blessing for Nephi but Nephi didn’t record it (too sacred? too direct?), though it’s odd still that there isn’t even a summary. There is the mention that if Laman doesn’t keep on the right path that his “first blessing” will fall to Nephi (2 Ne 1:28-29), and in some other blessings others are told that they will dwell safely with Nephi and Nephi’s family (2 Ne 1:31). So there are hints of the blessings that fall to Nephi, but no recorded, quoted blessing for him as for the others in 2 Nephi 1-4.

In 2 Nephi 4:12, Nephi records Lehi’s death. A few verses later, he writes what is sometimes called “Nephi’s psalm.” It is vulnerable, pensive, and poetic. It has been used to write a song, set to the tune of “Be Still My Soul.” It also draws heavily from Lehi’s words to his sons in 2 Nephi 1, which may be Nephi’s way of mourning and working through his father’s passing. It could also be that, even though I naturally see 2 Nephi 1 as warning his brothers, Nephi took the words of 2 Nephi 1 as a warning for himself as well, and in some sense creates his own blessing out of Lehi’s words. Or, lastly, it could be that Nephi sees Lehi as his wise example, and wants to work through is own situation by following his father.

Whatever the reasons, there are some clear connections between 2 Nephi 1 and 2 Nephi 4. I don’t have time to find the exact quotations and verse numbers this morning unfortunately, and knowing me, I probably will forget to come back and add them. :/ But, here are the connections from my notes:

2 Ne 4 —- 2 Nephi 1

  • want to delight —- soul might have joy
  • sorrow because of my iniquities —- heart weighed down with sorrow
  • trusted, God has been my support
  • led, through afflictions, wilderness/deep —- God’s mercy even in rebellion upon waters, and also in warning to leave Jerusalem
  • heart weeps, soul lingers in valley of sorrow —- sleep of hell, chains
  • Awake my soul! —- Awake! Rise from the dust
  • Asks God to redeem, deliver —- Lord has redeemed my soul from hell
  • wilt thou encircle me in robe of righteousness —- I am encircled in the arms of his love
  • I will trust in God —- His righteous will be done forever

 


Equal Partners (rough draft)

(A rough draft of a section of a paper I might do on the Book of Moses)

Following the creation of Adam and Eve (in Moses chapter 2), God gives them these two  commandments:

“And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them:

  • Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and
  • subdue [the earth], and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Moses 2:28)

Notice that these two commandments are given to “them,” that is, to Adam and Eve together.

These two commandments will have to wait to be fulfilled until after Adam and Eve have left the garden; or, at least, no mention of their fulfillment comes until Moses 5. Between the giving of these commandments and the fulfilling of these commandments comes the Fall, which will have a dramatic effect upon both commandments and their relationship to each other.

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Book of Moses writing project: Dividing into Parts

I’m attempting a paper on the Book of Moses, which will focus on Adam and Eve, the transition from a couple-priesthood to a generational-priesthood, and the effect of the formation of Zion. For today, I just want to share how I see the Book of Moses dividing itself up into parts:

Part 1, Moses chapter 1, contains Moses’s encounters with God and Satan. God shows Moses a vision of the earth, and all the inhabitants, which prompts Moses to ask for more of the story. By the end of chapter 1, the conversation between God and Moses has wrapped up, and it ends with an “Amen.”

Part 2, Moses chapters 2-4, begins God’s account of the heavens and the earth. The central narrative story is about the creation of Adam & Eve and the Fall. This part also ends with an “Amen.”

Part 3, Moses 5, describes Adam and Eve’s life outside the Garden of Eden, including their labors, efforts to teach their children, and their children’s rebellion. It ends with two verses describing how God has reached out to Adam’s family so far (5:58-59), then ends with an “Amen.”

Part 4, Moses chapter 6 (first half), contains the story of righteous sons, grandsons, and so on, and the formation of a Priesthood. A record of Adam’s genealogy is kept, and quoted. I choose to see the end of the quotation, with the two verses which re-summarize the record (v. 22-23), as the end of part 4.

Part 5, Moses chapters 6 (second half)-7, contains the story of Enoch, including his vision and the building of the city Zion. Chapter 7 ends with Zion being taken to heaven and the all-capital words: “ZION IS FLED.”

Part 6, chapter 8, picks up the story after Enoch’s city leaves. It contains the story of Noah, up to the point where God decides to destroy the people.


“But if not:” a little extra oil

There was a talk a few years ago with the repeated line “but if not.” The talk encouraged Latter-day Saints to continue faithful even if the things they were hoping and praying for didn’t happen, or didn’t happen as they thought they should. (With the comforting footnote added that we are beautifully and abundantly provided for once we’re in heaven.)

This week, while talking with friends, we decided that we could also apply this same concept to hoping and praying about things in the Church as a whole.

For example:

We might watch a teacher and think they are just repeating what they’ve heard before, and we hope and pray for teachers to think and to study the scriptures more.

We might see a leader handling a situation badly (in our eyes), and hope and pray for leaders to use the handbook and the Spirit more.

We might listen to a conference talk, knowing that some will use its implications in ways that will be harmful to friends or family, and hope and pray for more careful attention.

In all these cases we may be right (or at least feel that we are right) to hope for change. “But if not” — if that change never happens — will we continue to be faithful? Will we continue to serve where called? Will we be charitable to others? Will we still sustain our leaders? Can we hold in tension our desire to see the improvements we think are necessary with our trust that God is still doing His work already?

I wonder if the parable of the ten virgins might be read this way. Note the difference between the foolish and wise virgins is just that the latter had extra oil “just in case.” They were all — those with extra oil and those without — at the right place. They were all there on time. They assumed they knew exactly when the bridegroom was coming. “But if not?” Well, then the wise ones had extra oil. Perhaps this parable is, in part, teaching us to be willing to accept and trust God’s plans, even when they are different than what we thought they would be.

May we be willing to hold these things in tension, and be there together whenever and however Christ’s work is made manifest.


Priestcraft?

The other day I was reading 2 Nephi 26, and a different way of reading these verses struck me. What if all three of these verses are about priests? What if “laborer in Zion” meant a priest who was preaching? In this reading, verse 30 is reassuring the priest, saying that you shouldn’t rely on the Church for your support, but if it turns out that you find yourself needing help, the Church can help you because they should help everybody. But then comes the warning in verse 31: just because you know they can help you, doesn’t mean that’s why you’re laboring.

29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.

31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.

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This sounds a lot like Mosiah 18 to me:

26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.

27 And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given.

28 And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul.

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This way of reading these verses also sounds like D&C 24, where Joseph is told to plant his fields and then go preach, and the Church will take care of his current needs. Emma is told that the Church will watch over their family. There seems to be a big difference between watching over needs and getting paid, though it’s subtle.

24:3 Magnify thine office; and after thou hast sowed thy fields and secured them, go speedily unto the church which is in Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester, and they shall support thee; and I will bless them both spiritually and temporally;


Alma 3:14-17 – Nephi’s promise of who will and won’t be called his seed

I was reading through Alma 1-3 this morning, and Alma 3:14-17 felt like it was something I’d never read before. It is a record of a communication between the Lord and Nephi! Stuck here in Alma 3! Here is the passage:

14 Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them.

15 And again: I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also.

16 And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed.

17 And again, I say he that departeth from thee shall no more be called thy seed; and I will bless thee, and whomsoever shall be called thy seed, henceforth and forever; and these were the promises of the Lord unto Nephi and to his seed.

I have no idea why this hasn’t sunk into my head long enough to remember it when I’m reading elsewhere in scripture. This is amazingly like God’s promises to Abraham. Why have I not remembered this passage? And how does Mormon have access to it? Why would this not have been contained on the small plates? What other holy communication to Nephi is on the large plates that is not on the small plates??

Here is the language in Abraham 2 (minus the parenthetical stuff):

10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;

11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee and in thy seed, for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

The concept of being “accounted” as Abraham’s seed, or “called” Nephi’s seed, is fascinating to me. It preserves the idea that God can have a chosen lineage, and yet include anyone at all within it. 🙂 Israel is God’s chosen people, but that doesn’t exclude anyone because everyone who accepts the gospel is counted “as if” they had been born directly into Abraham’s (or here, Nephi’s) family.


Study group on headings in Alma

We are comparing the various headings that Mormon himself wrote into his text. We’re comparing them with each other, as well as with the printer’s manuscript. See the end of this post for the list of headings we’re working on. (I’ll update the conversation notes as we go along.)

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