“THEN WILL I GATHER THEM IN”

 

I got invited to be on Jared Anderson’s podcast that goes over this lesson.  Click here to listen to me being an idiot and embarrassing myself and my friends while also listening to some other very smart and articulate Mormons. 

16:1-3 “…I have other sheep, which are not…have not as yet heard my voice, neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.” 

Within Mormonism, we usually emphasize our particularism;  “the one and only true church,” etc.  3 Nephi 16:1-3 speaks to the universalism of religion. Those two things, particularism and the universalism of religion, are properly held in tension.   How do you interpret verse 2?  Does it mean that Jesus hasn’t shown himself to them nor have they heard him physically or is it more metaphysical?

“…This is just perversely ironic – Mormons are criticized for being exclusionists.  We shut down the temple to all except those who have recommends;  we teach you have to be a Mormon.  NO!! Mormonism is the most inclusivistic theological system that exists in the Christian world- separate and apart from Unitarian Universalists themselves.   In Joseph Smith’s vision, everybody is going to be saved except that handful who absolutely refuse to accept the conditions of their salvation.  It strikes me that this is the greatest “selling point”, so to speak, of  Mormonism – is a  God who says, as we are told in D&C 88:32, the beautiful verse where we are told everybody will receive “that which they are willing to receive.”  All of the universalists in Joseph’s day were writing about this.  They were saying, ” Ya, it just doesn’t make sense that God would condemn you if you were not baptized or you were born a pagan.”  But, they didn’t know how to reconcile the need for a Savior with that desire to universalize salvation.   Joseph comes along and reveals this whole plan of vicarious salvation;  work for the dead;  teaching the Gospel in the spirit-world.  God is not only the only most compassionate, but He is the most generous and inclusive God of any creedal system.  It’s just marvelous to me.

Dr. Givens and wife Fiona

“…My wife Fiona was raised Catholic and brought to her Mormonism a wonderful set of perspectives and understandings.  She was the one that first who pointed out to me that if you look at the allegory of the woman in the wilderness in chapter 12 of Revelation,  that Joseph glossed that in a particular way, or he says that it is about the apostasy – and then the woman  flees into the wilderness. Well, what I find absolutely remarkable is that when Joseph records the very, very  first revelation that mentions “the church” that he is going to restore, first he talks about the formation of a church in the Book of Commandments.   When he recasts the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants section 5 vs. 15, he changes the wording and he refers to the  “coming forth out of the wilderness” of the church (note: this change occured in the 1835 D&C).  So he obviously influenced by Revelation 12 and is inspired by that language and is trying to draw a parallel.  So, what Revelation 12 says is that the truth was not taken from the earth, but that it retreated into the wilderness where it was nurtured of the Lord.  Now think about the implications of that.   The church is in the wilderness.  It is being nurtured by the spirit of the Lord throughout this period of so called of darkness and apostasy.

“This to my mind gives us a radically different paradigm for understanding the relationship of Mormonism to the rest of the church and understanding the place of Mormonism in dispensational history.  It also gives an answer to the question, “When is Mormonism going to produce a Dante or a Shakespeare or a Beethoven?”  And, the answer is, “We don’t need a Mormon Dante or Shakespeare or Beethoven.  We have Dante, Shakespeare, and Beethoven. ”    We have Handel’s Messiah.  Why do they have to be authored by Mormons?  In other words, Joseph seemed to be suggesting that there is this reservoir of truth and beauty throughout the Christian world and even beyond and his job was to try to select from these scattered fragments of Mormonism and reconstitute them into an institutional church.  But, the point is God has made abundant  provision for there to be sources of inspiration, truth, and beauty throughout culture and throughout history.  Mormons don’t have the monopoly.

“So that is the first point I would make – is that this so called narrowness  of Mormonism isn’t the problem we may think it is because no one is claiming, or no one should be claiming, a Mormon monopoly on the avenues to these truths and what they represent.   Second of all, I think if I go back to my statement about the most important part about the institutional church being the ordinances of the temple,  then you don’t need a church of two-billion people if your principle role is to serve this custodian of those rituals and make them available and also provide the means whereby their benefits can be extended to the entire human family – either vicariously now or throughout the millennium or however you expect that is going to be fulfilled.   And then finally, if you return to what I said earlier about Mormon universalism, then you understand that you don’t have to be a member of the institutional church in order to secure your salvation.   So, I think the image is much more apt to think of Mormonism in the way that Christ referred to the leaven in the bread.  All it takes is a little bit of leaven and Mormonism is here to provide that as I understand it.

“If you look at the rhetoric of Brigham Young and everyone else speaking in the Tabernacle in the 1850’s and 60’s, you see the pretty virulent hostility and animosity toward the rest of Christendom.   And you can see that is the after-effects of the martyrdom and expulsion.  And then what happens in the 20th century of course is the kind of diatribe against the Catholic Church which pervades our culture.  I think that we, as a church, are guilty of an institutional sin in the way we have trumpeted Mormon triumphalism at the expense of the virtue and value of other religious traditions and individuals.  And, that is a sin for which we need to collectively repent. But, I would say, that there isn’t  a lot that is  conducive to such a view in Joseph Smith himself.

“Now, many people will point out a bit unfairly, I think, to the language of the First Vision experience where he talks about creeds were an abomination and, you know, give me a break.  He is writing in a nineteenth century vernacular in which that kind of language is absolutely rite de rigueur.  You can’t find any religious language in the 19th century that isn’t exclusivist in that way, that isn’t triumphalist.  The Baptists hate the Catholics.  For heaven sakes, the Catholic Church is the “great and abominable church of the devil” to everybody.  That’s not unique to the Book of Mormon.   Read any of the pamphlet wars going on in the early 19th century and the rhetoric is absolutely beyond the pale.  So, Joseph Smith is simply employing a vernacular, as I said, that is absolutely typical of religious culture in the early 19th century.  Unfortunately,  it ends up being canonized in scriptures that we still read and disseminate today and that is part of the reason for this triumphalist rhetoric that has been very damaging.   My sense is that things began to change under President Hinkley, not just because he was much more media savvy and conscious, but because   because from the pulpit, he actually said, on occasion, that language of us being the only true church can be misunderstood;  can be hurtful;  can be harmful.   I think he tried to encourage a retreat from that kind of language and that kind of attitude.  I think we have been very slow to catch on to that.

“…Mormonism [using the metaphor of a symphony] is the player that he designated to whom he actually bestowed, what I believe, are very real keys of authority and responsibility.   I believe also that  fullest dispensation of truth was made available through Joseph Smith.  There isn’t a single other Christian denomination on the planet, for example, the espouses belief in the eternal identity of the human soul.  That, to my mind, is a critical, really important component of the whole Gospel picture that is available through the Restored Gospel that we call Mormonism.  An understanding of human potential and the capacity that we have to become fully like our Father in every way.  That’s unique to us.  It’s not that we have to know all of these things in order to become God-like people, but I think the more fullness of the Gospel we are able to imbibe and have access to, then the greater will be our ability to make our progress across the whole array of areas where we need to progress towards a God-like nature.  I think there is a qualitative distinction.  The fact that we have a particular mandate and a particular responsibility as custodians of the priesthood and the temple ordinances doesn’t mean that there aren’t other important players in the cosmic drama as well; and much that we can learn.

“I understand to a certain degree why the brethren don’t like the use of that term [Mormon].  I use it because it has a certain cultural history that LDS doesn’t.   But, the danger is to assume that Mormonism has an eternal status – and it doesn’t.  Mormonism is the particular incarnation the Church of Jesus Christ at this moment in time.  Everybody will eventually have to bow the knee and confess that Jesus is the Christ.  But everybody doesn’t have to be a Mormon and everybody doesn’t have to be LDS.  But, right now, that church offers a very effective vehicle to get to know Christ and comply with his ordinances…[The Lord said] in 1831 [to Joseph] there are other holy men that I recognize that are engaged in my work that you don’t know anything about (D&C 49:8).  If you make allowance for the historical context and the cultural conditioning out of which [early LDS scripture language] arose [one can see the universalism of Mormonism].  That is why Joseph is so self-conscious about the inadequacy of his verbal presentation of [his] revelations.  It’s not like we have to be unfaithful to Joseph or principle of revelation to interpret that more generously.  Joseph gives you that, grants you that allowance when he says, “I am struggling.   This is a broken, shattered language.  I am trying to do the best I can.”  His life-long project was to revise and revise and try to write more proximate what the Lord  intended there.  Joseph is asked in Washington 1840  in a public address he gives if one has to be Mormon in order to be saved?  He says, ‘No'”  (Teryl Givens, Mormon Stories podcast, episode 290, 37:46, episode 291, 11:40,  September 28, 2011).

 

The Gentiles and Scattered Israel:  3 Nephi 16:4-20

16:4-12

“In his study of the relationship between Mormons and Jews, Steven Epperson downplayed this the Book of Mormon teaching that the House of Israel will be brought to a knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Redeemer, observing that ‘The Book of Mormon repeatedly asserts that Israel’s restoration depends on realizing the territorial terms of the covenant not in its conversion to, or identity with, the church.’  It may be that ‘Jewish missions were explicitly rejected by most leaders of the LDS Church and were never part of the church’s program in the nineteenth century,’ but the Book of Mormon is nevertheless clear that eventually Jews will become Christians'” (Grant Hardy, Understanding The Book of Mormon:  A Reader’s Guide, pg. 315, note 36)

16:4 “…do not ask the Father…”   Why would the people in Jerusalem ask God about the other scattered tribes if they didn’t know about them?  Or, is Jesus saying that they know there are scattered tribes, but don’t know what is going on with them?  It appears that the resurrected Jesus in Third Nephi is concerned less with conveying precise information than in inviting his listeners, both ancient and modern, to come into a particular sort of relationship with him (ask[ed] the Father in my name) (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 212).

16:5, 11-12 It is interesting to note how often Jesus specifies that covenants with Israel were made by the Father.  Later he credits the Father with the covenant with Abraham (3 Nephi 20:25,27)

16:10 “sin against my gospel…reject the fullness of my gospel…”  Is there any significance in Jesus’ word change?

16:10 “…I will bring the fullness of my gospel from among them…”  This is an odd way to put things.  Why is it not “taken” from the Gentiles?

16:13 “…if the Gentiles will repent…they shall be numbered among my people”  

“This opportunity is mentioned at least four times in Third Nephi (3 Nephi 16:13; 21:6, 22; 30:2)  and Latter-day Saints take it quite literally.  After baptism and confirmation by which they receive the Holy Ghost, they are encouraged to get a blessing from a church patriarch that will among other personal promises and warnings, declare with tribe of Israel they belong to (or perhaps assigned to).  Most discover they are affiliated with Ephraim” (Hardy, Reader’s Guide, pg. 315, note 35)

For a great discussion on LDS patriarchal blessings, click here.  The discussion includes Jared Anderson, PhD candidate in Biblical Studies, Dr. Richard Bushman, stake patriarch (among other things),  and Dan Wotherspoon.

Jesus sometimes quotes the same scriptures with substantial differences, as can be seen when he doubles back and repeats Isaiah 52:8-10 – a passage he had recited to the Nephites the day before (with deletions in angle brackets, insertion in bold, and substitutions  underlined):

3 Nephi 16:18-20: Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing;  for they shall see eye to eye, [when the Lord shall bring again Zion] Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places in Jerusalem;  for the Lord hath comforted this people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.  The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations;  an all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. 

3 Nephi 20:32-25:  Then shall their voice; and with the voice together shall they sing;  for they shall see eye to eye.  Then will the Father gather them together again, and give unto them Jerusalem for the land of their inheritance.  Then shall they break forth unto joy – Sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem;  for the Father hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.   The Father hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations;  and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of  The Father, and the Father and I are one. 

At least some of the variations can be accounted for by the idea of multiple fulfillments – 3 Nephi 16 refers more particularly to the latter-day Lamanites, while 3 Nephi 20 has the Jews as its primary focus – but the differences are nevertheless considerable, particularly the emphasis on “the Father” in the second rendition.  Even as he reaffirms covenants made with Israel, Jesus in Third Nephi is also explicating a doctrine of deity” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 203).

16:20 this scripture is a quote from Isaiah 52:8-10 and is also cited in Mosiah 12:22-24; 15:29-31. 

“Usually people cite holy writ when they need to bolster their authority.  Jesus, descending from heaven as God, does not need any further proof of his power or legitimacy;  it would have been obvious to everyone present on that occasion that his words were scripture.  So the effect is just the opposite.  He validates the ancient prophets by quoting their writings, thus demonstrating that even the arrival of the Lord himself will not annul or supplant the authority of the scriptures.  The resurrected Christ does not just fulfill prophecies;  he renews the promise of those that were as yet unrealized” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 202).

The Sacrament Is Administered Again:  3 Nephi 20:1-8

20:6 “…now there had been no bread, neither wine…”   This seems to be an allusion to Matthew 14:15-21; Mark 6:41-44; Luke 9:13-17;  John 6:5-14.   But, in the Book of Mormon account, he supersedes the miracle as found in the New Testament;  he starts with no bread nor wine.  The Book of Mormon generally stays close to the parameters of biblical super-naturalism as it literalizes and expands upon familiar stories.

20:8 “…he that  eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul;  and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled. ”  

Compare verse 8 with 3 Nephi 18:7, 8, 9 as well as what is recorded in Luke 22:19;  Mark 14:24:

3 Nephi 18:7 “…in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you…”  In the New World, the symbolism of Jesus’ crucified body has been removed. Luke 22:19 “...This is my body which is given for you:  do in remembrance of me.”

3 Nephi 18:8, 9  No symbolism is attached to the wine. Mark 14:24 “This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many.”

In 3 Nephi 18:7-10  the elements of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper seem to emphasize one’s willingness to do “…that which [Jesus] has commanded…” (vs. 10).  The rite of baptism is also attached to the partaking of Communion (vs.6, 11) .

In 3 Nephi 20:8,  Jesus explicitly links the wine to his blood, and his body takes on a much stronger metaphysical, transformative nature.  The bread no longer only symbolizes Jesus’ body which he showed the Nephites and the wine now has his blood explicitly attached to it.   He also attaches Communion to the “Bread of Life” discourse as found in John 6:35. 

Another interesting point that I picked up while doing a close reading of 3 Nephi 11:14, 15 is that Jesus never states by what means the wounds in his hands and in his side came to be.  He never goes beyond saying, “…have been slain for the sins of the world.”  So, what would these wounds have meant to those who touched his wounds?  What would these wounds have meant to the editor, Mormon?   If those in MesoAmerica knew the wounds came from  his death by crucifixion, would that have meant anything to them as crucifixion was not a form of execution used in MesoAmerica?  Perhaps because crucifixion would not carry any familiarity with those of Pre-Columbia America, Jesus chose not to emphasize it in his discourse or institution of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  Instead, the symbolism of the Eucharist, was something different than what it was in the Old World.

I am now going to digress.   Early Mormonism was noted for its peculiar economic practices and for polygamy.    Within the early economic practices of the LDS tradition, was deeply embedded the idea of community.    Today, one still gets the sense of community, but to a much lesser extent.   As I try to wrap my head around how and why polygamy was practiced by the LDS church, and our present-day teaching of sealing families, it seems that the idea of community is/was necessarily part of those/these teachings.    Stealing the idea from Todd Compton, it appears Joseph was interested in forming a “celestial dynasty”;  where everyone was connected to everybody – a celestial community.    Was Joseph taking that idea of community as practiced in Kirtland and Independence and applying it to the afterlife?   To me, that seems to be exactly what is and was going on.   Now, to connect this to the sacrament.   First, why do we use  the truncated term ” the sacrament” instead of using its full title, “Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper”?   A sacrament is any religious rite which holds particular sacred significance.   Granted we use the definite article “the” when speaking of “the sacrament” instead of the indefinite article “a” as in “a sacrament” to make a particular distinction.

Why don’t we use the word “Communion” when speaking of The Lord’s Supper?   Does it sound “too Catholic”?  Was it ever used in the LDS church?    Krister Stendahl, Bishop of  Stockholm, Sweden, and past Dean of Harvard Divinity School once gave “Three Rules of Religious Understanding”  One of these is “Leave room for ‘holy envy'”.   That is, you should be willing to recognize elements in another religious tradition or faith, elements you admire and wish might find greater scope to your own religious tradition or faith.   Regarding the use of the word “Communion”, I have holy envy toward Catholicism.    To me the word echoes of community.  Indeed, when we are baptized and  then renew our baptismal covenants by taking the Eucharistic  emblems, we are doing so as a community and we not only covenant with God but we covenant with each other (see Mosiah 18:9).

The Nephites to Overcome Unrighteous Gentiles in the Latter Days:  3 Nephi 20:9-29

 20:11 see 3 Nephi 16:16-20

Jesus had opened his second discourse with an allusion to something he said on the first day with regard to Isaiah: “Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled…then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father has made unto his people” (3 Nephi 20:11-12, picking up the argument from 16:16-20, where he had quoted Isaiah 52:8-10).  As he continues his discussion of relations between the Gentiles and the descendants of Israel in the last days, he augments his words with lengthy quotations from the Hebrew prophets.  He combines Micah 5:8-9 and 4:12-13, adding in interpretation that the rampaging lion and the charging bull both symbolize the way the remnants of Israel will eventually turn on the unbelieving Gentiles.   He quotes most of Isaiah 52 (placing vv 8-10 at the beginning and omitting the prose interruption (vv. 4-5), a chapter that describes the joyful day when the Lord and his people will return to Jerusalem.  From a biblical perspective, this would already have been fulfilled at the end of the Babylonian Exile in 538 BC, but at the verse “kings shall shut their mouths at him,” Jesus interrupts to assert that some aspects of this prediction are still to come (3 Nephi 20:46) (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 202).

20:12 “…which the Father hath made unto his people…” It is remarkable how often Jesus specifies that covenants with Israel were made by The Father (see 3 Nephi 16:5, 11-12; 20:29, 46: 21:4, 7; 29:1) (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 316, note 41).

20:16-17 compare with Micah 5:8-9

20:18-19  compare with Micah 4:12-13

“Jesus quotes Malachi 4, [being] new to the Nephites since it had not been included in the Brass Plates that Nephi and his brothers had brought from Jerusalem (3 Nephi 26:2).  These citations generally follow the King James Version, but they are not simply a matter of cutting and pasting.  There are often interpretive insertions and substitutions that highlight the themes of Christ’s discourse to the Nephites – just as the Sermon on the Mount – as can be seen in the following excerpt (with deletions in angle brackets, insertion in bold, and substitutions  underlined):

Micah 4:12-13: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. [Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion:] for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and though shalt beat in pieces many people:  and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.

3 Nephi 10:18-19:  And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor.  For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass.  And though shalt beat in pieces many people;  and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.  And behold, I am he who doeth it. (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 202)

20:19 “…Lord of the whole earth…” 

“[The usage of] the phrase “Lord of the whole earth”  is limited.  It appears in the Bible only in Psalms 97:5, Micah 4:13, and Zechariah 4:14.  Jesus picks up the second of these references when he quotes Micah 4:13 in 3 Nephi 20:19” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 316, note 43)

20:20-22, 24-25 Although Mormon, as the narrator, never inserts scriptural passages, he does recount how Jesus quoted Isaiah, Micah, and Malachi”(Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon:  A Reader’s Guide, pg. 299, note 5) 

20:23 compare with Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19 and Acts 3:22-23

“Jesus’ discourse is made even more dense and complex by his use of connecting catchphrases.  His citation of Moses’ prediction that “every should who will not hear the prophet shall be ‘cut off from among the people’ (3 Nephi 20:23) follows his quotation of Micah 5:9 (‘all thine enemies shall be cut off‘ 3 Nephi 20:17)  and is echoed again in 3 Nephi 21:11 (‘it shall be done even as Moses said:  they shall be cut off from among my people’) 21:13 (again quoting Micah 5:9), and 21:20 (‘whosoever will not repent..will I cut off from among my people’) (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 203).   

20:23 

“Jesus here claims the title of prophet when he asserts that he was the one foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19.  His point here, then, concerns prophecy – both its fulfillment and its continuing validity.  In the teachings that follow, he communicates his message through extensive quotations of scripture.  This rhetorical strategy is somewhat surprising.  Usually people cite holy writ when they need to bolster their authority.  Jesus, descending from heaven as God, does not need any further proof of his power or legitimacy; it would have been obvious to everyone present on that occasion that his words were scripture.  So the effect is just the opposite.   He validates the ancient prophets by quoting their writings, thus demonstrating that even the arrival of the Lord himself will not annul or supplant the authority of the scriptures.  The resurrected Christ does not just fulfill prophecies;  he renews the promise of those that were as yet unrealized” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 202).

20:23-26 

“The wording here is more similar to the New Testament than the Old.  The entire passage of 3 Nephi 20:23-26, very closely follows Peter’s speech in Acts 3:22-26, as can be seen from 20:25, where Jesus says, “ye are the children of the prophets” and refers to God’s promise in Genesis 22:18 that all the nations would be blessed through Abraham’s descendants.  In his 1838 autobiography, Joseph Smith wrote that the first time the angel Moroni appeared to him, he quoted “the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty third verses precisely as they stand in our New Testament.  He said that the prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when ‘they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,’ but soon would come” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 315, note 39)

20:24 This is probably speaking of Samuel1, the Hebrew prophet, rather than Samuel2, the Lamanite.  See Acts 3:24

20:25 see Genesis 22:18 and Acts 3:25 “…which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham…” Here Jesus credits the Father with the covenant of Abraham (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 316, note 41).

20:27-28 I have a hard time following what is going on here so I decide to draw it out:  House of Israel is blessed –leads to–> Gentiles being blessed (is this referring to Pentecost?)—leads to—>Scourging of the House of Israel in America? Say what now?  Does “of my people” at the end of  vs. 27 refer to all of Israel or just the remnant in America (Lamanites)?

20:27, 29 see note to 3 Nephi 20:12

Jesus Quotes Isaiah 52:8-10:  3 Nephi 20:30-35

This is the second time that Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah (see Nephi 16:18-20) but with significant interpretive variants.   For example, verse 33 replaces the phrase “when the Lord shall bring again Zion,”  and the original “Lord”  is replaced by “Father” throughout.

Jesus sometimes quotes the same scriptures with substantial differences, as can be seen when he doubles back and repeats Isaiah 52:8-10 – a passage he had recited to the Nephites the day before (with deletions in angle brackets, insertion in bold, and substitutions  underlined):

3 Nephi 16:18-20: Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing;  for they shall see eye to eye, [when the Lord shall bring again Zion] Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places in Jerusalem;  for the Lord hath comforted this people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.  The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations;  an all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. 

3 Nephi 20:32-25:  Then shall their voice; and with the voice together shall they sing;  for they shall see eye to eye.  Then will the Father gather them together again, and give unto them Jerusalem for the land of their inheritance.  Then shall they break forth unto joy – Sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem;  for the Father hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.   The Father hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations;  and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of  The Father, and the Father and I are one. 

At least some of the variations can be accounted for by the idea of multiple fulfillments – 3 Nephi 16 refers more particularly to the latter-day Lamanites, while 3 Nephi 20 has the Jews as its primary focus – but the differences are nevertheless considerable, particularly the emphasis on “the Father” in the second rendition.  Even as he reaffirms covenants made with Israel, Jesus in Third Nephi is also explicating a doctrine of deity” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 203).

Jesus Quotes Isaiah 52:1-3, 6-7, 11-15:  3 Nephi 20:36-46

Russian icon of the Prophet Isaiah, 18th century (iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia).

These verses are also quoted in 2 Nephi 8:24-25

“Usually people cite holy writ when they need to bolster their authority.  Jesus, descending from heaven as God, does not need any further proof of his power or legitimacy;  it would have been obvious to everyone present on that occasion that his words were scripture.  So the effect is just the opposite.  He validates the ancient prophets by quoting their writings, thus demonstrating that even the arrival of the Lord himself will not annul or supplant the authority of the scriptures.  The resurrected Christ does not just fulfill prophecies;  he renews the promise of those that were as yet unrealized” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 202).

20:46 “When Jesus quotes Isaiah 52, which in Abinadi’s interpretation (Mosiah 12:20-16:15) had been fulfilled in his coming, he shifts its significance further into the future, noting explicitly that “all these things shall surely come” (3 Nephi 20:46).  From this perspective, when Jesus praises Isaiah and observes that “all things that he spake have been and shall be” (3 Nephi 23:3), he does not necessarily mean that some of his prophecies have been fulfilled and others are yet to come;  rather, some predictions are apparently germane to both the past and future simultaneously ” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 207).

20:46 also see note to 3 Nephi 20:11 and the note to 3 Nephi 20:12

A Sign of the Gathering of Israel (An Interpretation of Isaiah 52:14-15):   3 Nephi 21:1-10

“The way that Jesus teaches is just as important as the doctrinal content of his discourses, and the clarity of [Grant Hardy’s] synopsis misrepresents the actual style of 3 Nephi20-25,   which is anything but a straightforward exposition.  Indeed, Jesus preaches in a manner that thwarts ready understanding and forces multiple re-readings with close attention to interruption, antecedents, repetitions, and reversals.  For example, even with the addition of parentheses and some bracketed identifications, the following passage makes for slow going (note how the “you” addressed by Jesus shifts back and forth between the Nephites at Bountiful, the House of Israel as a whole, and the Lamanites in the latter days):

1 And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion;

2 And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign—for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you, (and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself, and by the power of the Holy Ghost which shall be given unto you of the Father), shall be made known unto the Gentiles [as part of the Book of Mormon] that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, and concerning this my people [the Lamanites] who shall be scattered by them;

3 Verily, verily, I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them of the Father, and shall come forth of the Father, from them [the Gentiles] unto you;

4 (For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel);

7 And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them[the Lamanites], that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel” (Grant Hardy, Understanding The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide, pg. 200)

 21:4 see note to 3 Nephi 20:12

“In LDS literature from 1830 to 1846, 3 Nephi 21 was the single most quoted chapter (with vv. 1-7 being the most frequently reference block of the text within that chapter).   Grant Underwood has observed that for the first generation of Latter-day Saints, ‘the coming forth of the Book of Mormon served as an invaluable prophetic landmark, a millenarian milestone which helped the Saints to locate themselves in the eschatological timetable'” click here to read Grant Underwood’s article (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 315, note 38)

21:5 “your seed” Seems that the text is switchnig back to the remnants of the Book of Mormon peopl.

21:6  “….and be baptized in my name…”

“The idea of personal redemption is not foreign to Third Nephi – baptism is mentioned regularly – but when Jesus speaks to the multitude at Bountiful, he most often emphasizes a different type of salvation:  a corporate or collective redemption centered on the restoration of the House of Israel.  What matters most, apparently, is one’s place within that story (and baptism becomes the means by which Gentiles can be adopted into Israel; see also 3 Nephi 30:2).  In the rest of the Book of Mormon, Christ is preeminently a personal savior whose atonement has made it possible for individuals to return to God, but as the resurrected Jesus defines his own role in Third Nephi, his primary task is to save a people , his people” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 205).

21:6 “…that they may be numbered among my people…”  

“This opportunity is mentioned at least four times in Third Nephi (3 Nephi 16:13; 21:6, 22; 30:2)  and Latter-day Saints take it quite literally.  After baptism and confirmation by which they receive the Holy Ghost, they are encouraged to get a blessing from a church patriarch that will among other personal promises and warnings, declare with tribe of Israel they belong to (or perhaps assigned to).  Most discover they are affiliated with Ephraim” (Hardy, Reader’s Guide, pg. 315, note 35)

21:7 see note to 3 Nephi 20:12

21:8   This verse is a redaction of Isaiah 52:15.  In the Book of Mormon, the possessive pronoun, “he”, has been removed.    In the original, “he”, refers to the Messiah.

21:10 is a redaction of Isaiah 52:14.  In Isaiah, the servant being spoken of appears to be the Messiah.  In the Book of Mormon, “the servant” appears to be someone else.

Jesus Quotes Micah 5:8-15:  3 Nephi 21:11-21

Micah 5:8-9 is also quoted in 3 Nephi 20:16-17 with significant differences.

21:11 “…that he shall bring them…cut off from among…”  See Deuteronomy 18:19;   Acts 3:23;  3 Nephi 20:23.  Who is the “he” referred to in this verse?

“…shall cause him…”  I believe the “him” referred to here is the “servant” in the redacted version of Isaiah 52:14-15 as found in 3 Nephi 21:10.  Of course, this begs the question, who is the servant spoke of in 3 Nephi 21:10?  Will this servant be a Gentile or of the House of Israel?

Parts not in the KJV:

21:14 “Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent.

21:19 “And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away….O House of Israel”

22:21 The original chapter break was at this verse.

Righteous Gentiles in the Latter Days: 3 Nephi 21:22-29

21:22 see note to 3 Nephi 21:6 

21:24 “New Jerusalem”  Does this refer to the Jerusalem in the nation of Israel being re-built or does it refer to the New Jerusalem to built in the Americas?2:29 “…and they shall not go out in haste…and I will be their reward…”  Compare with Isaiah 52:12;  also cited in 3 Nephi 20:42.

In these verses, the original “ye” and “you” are changed to “they” and “them” and “their”. 

So, the big question is, how do these redactions change the meaning of the original text?  What purpose do these redactions have?

 

Michael is a Guatemalan-American Mormon living in the Northwest with his family. He is one of the proprietors of the Rational Faiths blog.

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