Reading Nephi – 10:11-16

068-068-the-liahona-fullAt the end of this section Nephi notes that there were many other prophecies of Lehi, and many of those prophecies Nephi wrote in his other plates. Here he’s only written what he thought appropriate. Well then, what has he written? Out of many prophecies, what does Nephi consider worth including? Two main things. First, he’s copied over Lehi’s messianism and re-interpreted that messianism for his reader. Second he’s laid a foundation for one of the major themes of the entire Book of Mormon: this notion of scattering and gathering, which he’ll take back up when relaying his own vision in a few chapters, and which gets repeated throughout the rest of the record.

With this latter, there’s something else that’s interesting. Lehi isn’t just prophesying for his posterity, he’s given them a way of understanding and affirming the wrenching experience that they’ve undergone by situating their personal experience within a much grander, holy narrative. It’s necessary that branches be broken off and scattered—this is God’s plan. (Note that Jacob later picks up on this and attributes it to Zenos’s allegory of the olive grove—this scattering and gathering contributes to the health of the whole grove and significantly increases the harvest. Perhaps Jacob was also relaying the teachings of Lehi.) Consequently, Lehi’s family is blessed, honored, or at least undeniably part of an ultimately meaningful and divine narrative; and both Lehi and Nephi felt it imperative that their posterity understand this fact. We can read in this the element of “here, this helps me to understand my own present struggles by situating them in a larger context.” We can also see it as revealing a new way to experience life generally, a method of diminishing the individual and the significance of individual suffering. Or perhaps it would be better put as a method of elevating the individual and her suffering by making it an inextricable part in a greater whole.

Lehi gives us a different ethic, and one that while still powerful today, receives much less attention, let alone grip on our society.

3 comments for “Reading Nephi – 10:11-16

  1. Makes me wish we hadn’t lost the Book of Lehi (the 116 pages). Even if they covered the same things, it would’ve been a different perspective with different ideas on what was important.

  2. Frank. Although its a bit speculative, that’s why I’m really looking forward to Don Bradley’s published thesis from Kofford Books. It has continually been put off for some reason (I think having to do with his academic approval). The little I’ve seen of it has been fascinating.

  3. Yes, I suspect Bradley’s book will shake things up more than anything done on the Book of Mormon since Sorenson.

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