In 1986, President Ezra Taft Benson gave his classic talk, ‘The Book of Mormon- the Keystone of Our Religion’. He emphasized the importance of reading, studying, and becoming familiar with the stories and messages that the book contained. The importance of the Book of Mormon in our religion is indisputable- it is one of the most unique things about our faith. The thing is, we’re not exactly sure where the Book of Mormon takes place. We’re pretty sure it was somewhere in the Western hemisphere. A quick look at Wikipedia shows about a million hypothesized locations of the Book of Mormon, among them Malaysia, Africa, Alpha Centauri, and inside of a snowglobe held by an autistic boy. The most fun bit about all of this is the fact that, as much as we’d like to, we have no idea what any of the Book of Mormon scenes actually looked like. This has prompted some very imaginative guesses.
Almost every modern copy of the Book of Mormon contains the drawings of Arnold Friberg, who gave us a face, a pair of monstrous biceps, and a mullet to go with every Book of Mormon prophet. He is considered by many to be the premier Book of Mormon artist. But Friberg’s fantastical images of Book of Mormon scenes are not alone in the artistic world. There are quite a few Mormon artists that have attempted to help us visualize the Book of Mormon: a daunting task that requires a fair amount of creativity. For the next few articles that I publish, I want to look at the way artists portray characters from the Book of Mormon. We’ll look at what insights we can gain and what truths we can uncover as we look beneath the surface of the art that we use in the church. We are going to start this series with guns blazing: The artistic portrayals of the Antichrists and Apostates of the Book of Mormon.
Lets start with Nehor. Nehor was an opportunistic, immoral guy who is considered to be, according to historians, a proto-televangelist. He would wear flashy clothes, preach about his awesomeness, and tell people that they could do whatever they wanted. His rantings were noticed by the authorities and he was presented before them.
So lets talk about what everybody notices when they first look at this picture- the punched-in-the-face expression of the guy to the left. No, just kidding. I’m talking about the aerodynamic dogbowl/sailor hat combo with gigantic bluish earflaps that Nehor has on his head. And look at that bling! Those humungous gems make me crave Jolly Ranchers for some reason. Nehor was tried for blasphemy, and ultimately killed, but I am sure his absurd fashion choices were mentioned at least once during his trial.
“See, Nehor? This happened last time you tried to dress yourself!” says Alma the Younger (A.K.A. Ryan Gosling) as he wags his finger unnaprovingly.
Here is another artistic representation of Nehor that I found.
“God wants me to be rich…so buy Oxy-Clean, baby! How else can I afford these leopard skin vests?” Failed to mention that Nehor also owns a pawn shop.
Moving on, we find Sherem. Sherem was also an anti-Christ. We know this because of his massive bling and bowl like, useless hat. This story plays out wonderfully visually. Here is Sherem reasoning with the crowd. He demands to speak with the prophet Jacob.
Jacob, who at this point looks remarkably like Kenny Rogers, begins to reason with Sherem. Sherem accuses him of being a “gambler” and a “coward of the country”.
To both accusations, Jacob responds with a soulful rendition of ‘You are so Beautiful’…
“High five, brotha!“-Jacob
… which Sherem denies, because Antichrists are typically jerks who would totally leave a prophet hanging. Which moves us to our final Antichrist-
Korihor. Now, this dude had the odds stacked against him at birth. I mean, could you imagine a more phonetically unpleasant name? Well, I haven’t ever met a Riplakish. Shiz is also pretty bad (see Book of Ether). Korihor was a dispassionate and cold individual who was only concerned with reason. He cleaved into science and logic instead of adhering to his natural inclinations, which he deemed ‘illogical’. His disregard for beauty and emotion made him lose favor with his colleagues.
Alma, on the other hand, was a dashing young individual with a dramatic life. Having grown up a little rough around the edges, he had the know-how, but also the heart, that made a good leader. He was resourceful and had a way with words that impressed those around him. His believers loved him and would have followed him, even into the final frontier. He was rugged and handsome, and lived an action packed life. Any time he was taken captive, his shirt was removed somehow, showing his six-pack abs and perfect physique.
Alma and Korihor had a long confrontation that could basically be boiled down to reason vs. faith. Korihor didn’t understand why Alma believed in things that he felt had no physical evidence. Alma didn’t understand the cold, calculating logic of Korihor. Basically what I’m getting at here is that, according to the summary and the artwork, Korihor and Alma are Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.
THE RESEMBLANCE IS UNCANNY!
Their war of words became fiery, and resulted in Korihor’s ultimate death, which was unfortunately captured on video.
Click here if you are unable to see the awesome video
I am probably going to show this video to my Seminary class instead of using the Gospel Art kit.
Here is another artist’s rendering of an extraterrestrial Korihor, only this time, he’s one of those black Ridley Scott aliens with elongated heads. Oh, silly Korihor, we all saw through your tubular, palm leafy cover. I mean, you could have at least worn some sunglasses or something, you beady eyed freak!
So, what do we learn from this? Well, to help you remember how to spot an Antichrist, I’ve made something you can print out and hand to your kids for Family Home Evening. Antichrist Bingo. I’ve made the scorecard here. Turn on your TV and look out for the signs.
And if you were wondering, YES. Justin Beiber fits ALMOST all of these categories. There, I gave you a head start.
You just can’t leave a prophet hanging… at least give him a fist bump.
Are you going to address all the BOM soldiers who wear Roman armor? That’s one I’ve always wondered about. Oh, and the abundance of bare male chests in a culture that sees fit to digitally alter paintings of angels so that women’s shoulder’s don’t show before putting them on the covers of church magazines?
I loved this one, btw.
Oh, Heidi, don’t worry. Armor is coming up in the series, among many other things. I mentioned it in my mullets article, but the picture of Moroni has a dude with a centurion helmet with horns on it. In other words, a 100 pound helmet.
Would Moroni’s helmet from that painting really weigh 100 pounds?
Probably not 100, but LOOK at that thing! It’s massive. But the guy is also enormous as well. And so is Moroni.
I think the Roman armour is the old book. The current one looks more bronze age.
This one – Book of Mormon reader had the Roman armour –
Fun. My kids have long commented on the weird headgear the bad guys seem to wear.
I loved reading about the similarities to in appearance to characters found elsewhere, which I discussed in my post here:
I knew there had to be others I didn’t recognise. (The Mr Spock I refer to is Leonard Nimoy so it’s the wrong picture, unfortunately as a guest poster then I hadn’t supplied the images myself).
Yo! That article is pretty similar to mine! Cool to think we were on the same wavelength here. Love the Neil Tennant bit. Glad I could keep the conversation going!
I don’t have the wit to match yours, even in complimenting you for this highly entertaining blog essay–
Thank you for the chuckles and even the ‘laugh out louds’–
That was fantastic!!!!
In the Star Trek clip, I love how the High Priestess is sitting in an obviously EGYPTIAN chair! Just grab whatever works from the prop room…
My wife and I love to watch old episodes of Star Trek. And pretty much, I am sure that’s how many episodes were conceived. “Hey, we found some gladiator outifts. Lets do an episode where they do gladiator games!” And then you repeat that with Mafioso gangsters, Medieval Europe, 20th Century United States (I’m sure that one was easy), etc.
One word. AWESOME.
This made me so happy. Freakin hilarious!!!
This is really funny and I loved it.
The world needed this blog post! Thank you, this was much more fun than the pedantic bit of hot air I posted on my blog on May 8.
Charles- loved your stuff on my bro’s blog. I went back and read your post. The Testaments movies make my blood curdle. Your stuff is fantastic.
The other thing that has always struck me as funny is the racial depictions of these figures. Why are the majority of them blatantly Scandanavian in complexion? Shouldn’t they at the very least look like they are from the Middle East?
Yeah, it’s funny, because for all the liberty and imagination required for the weird clothes and accessories, they could at least get right what they know for sure- where everyone was from.
Awesome post, Thomas. I also noticed the same thing about so many of the pictures in some editions of the Book of Mormon. If they’re from the middle east, how come they don’t have olive skin?
I guess they just want us to believe that Lehi and his family were actually from Orem, Utah.
Because they were a “white and delightsome people”
Oh man. You totally just made my day. Hilarious!!!
Please tell me you’re going to talk about the Real Heroes of the B of Mormon series. Those posters make me scream with laughter. The Daughters in the Wilderness walking their high fashions on the catwalk are my favorite ( featuring this season’s newest accessory: a baby that you can carry in one hand!)
Totally. Those things are just begging for an article.
I don’t know if this has been pointed out, and I’m too busy to read all the comments, but does anyone else think that the second depiction of Nehor, with the goatee and all, looks a bit like Tom Hanks?
They weren’t ?