“I Speak unto You As If Ye Were Present”
Mormon2‘s Message to the Latter-day Lamanites: book of Mormon 7:1-10
Click here to listen to Jared Anderson’s podcast and read his lesson notes that go over this lesson.
7:2, 3, 4, 5 “Know ye that…” 7:9 “..if ye believe that…” 7:10 “…know that…” Moroni 10:3, 4, 7, 8, 18, 19, 27, 30 “…would exhort you that…”
Mormon and Moroni alike take an urgent, insistent tone….both of these phrases occur primarily in the segments directed toward the Lamanites and are virtually nonexistent elsewhere in the Book of Mormon…with a couple of minor variations, the only occurrence of either of these phrases elsewhere is a “know you that” in 3 Nephi 27:27 (Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, A Reader’s Guide,pg. 261, pg.324, note 14, ).
7:4 “…save it be that God shall command you.” How does one know if God has commanded you to go to war?
7:5 “…swallowed up…”
[This phrase] is obviously related in some way to 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, but it does seem to be a favorite of Mormon’s, appearing not only in another paraphrase in Alma 22:14, but also in his direct appeal to readers in Mormon 7:5. Paul himself was quoting Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 305, note 48).
7:5 Here Mormon gives a wonderful list of orthodox belief
- Believe Jesus is the Son of God
- Believe Jesus was killed
- Believe that Jesus was raised to life by God the Father
- Believe Jesus has gained victory over the grave
- Believe that Jesus has swallowed up the sting of death
- Believe Jesus has brought about the resurrection of the dead
- Believe that it is because of Jesus’ conquer over death all may stand to be judged
- Believe that it is through Jesus that the redemption of the world will come
- Believe that it is through Jesus that the human race may become guiltless at the day of judgment
- Believe that it is through Jesus that one may dwell with God
- Believe that Jesus, the Holy Ghost, and God the Father are one
Then Mormon gives a list of orthopraxy:
- Be baptized in the name of Jesus
- Lay hold upon the gospel of Christ as found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon
7:10 “…following the example of the Savior….” see Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-24
7:10 “…according to that which he hath commanded us…” See 3 Nephi 12:1
7:10 “…with you in the day of judgment. Amen” This combination of reference to the final judgment and the word “Amen” constitute a conventional sign-off for Book of Mormon narrators(see 2 Nephi 33:15; Enos 1:27; Moroni 10:34)…Jacob, the most important of the minor narrators, offers an alternative ending with his “Brethren adieu” (Jacob 7:27), though his conclusion in the previous chapter followed the standard pattern (Jacob 6:13) (Perhaps Jacob 7 was an afterthought or an epilogue.) (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 218, 317, note 1).
Moroni2‘s Additions to His Father’s Record
book of Mormon 8 – Moroni 10
Moroni2 Finishes His Father’s Book: book of Mormon 8:1-9:27
“…of the twenty-seven Book of Mormon chapters attributed to Moroni, twenty-one are either copied directly or only lightly edited, and even in the six chapters where he is expressing his own ideas (Mormon 8-9; Ether 5, 12,; Moroni 1, 10), he does so with an unusually high proportion of phraes borrowed from previous Book of Mormon authors
“…[We may ask] the question of why Moroni chooses to write in this fashion (or why Joseph Smith chose to present Moroni as writing in this fashion). Moroni’s sensibilities are revealed mostly through his style, and whether we see him as a historical figure or a fictional character, it makes him interesting to read.
“Mormon apparently handed his lengthy abridgment of Nephite history to his son with a charge to bring it to an appropriate close. Like the commission to add something about the Jaredites, this was not an easy task, and it was sixteen years (see book of Mormon 6:5 (+384) and book of Mormon 8:6 (+400)) before Moroni managed to compose a two-chapter conclusion (book of Mormon 8-9). He excuse himself by noting his struggles to avoid capture and certain death, as well as his lack of writing material (book of Mormon 8:1-8), but it may also have been difficult for him to know what kind of ending would transform “the sad tale of the destruction of my people” (book of Mormon 8:3) into a book that would promise hope and salvation to future readers. Bringing any sort of long project to a suitable conclusion is a delicate matter, and this is even more the case when the bulk of the work was done by others and the results are expected to become scripture. At some later point, when Moroni found himself with more time and resources, he wrote a second ending (Ether 12, in the midst of his summary of Jaredite history). And then, perhaps after looking over his previous attempts and still not feeling satisfied, he wrote yet another conclusion (Moroni 10), some twenty years after the first. Uniquely among Book of Moromn narrators, Moroni offers us the opportunity to follow the development of his ideas and writing style over the course of decades. We can explore Moroni’s distinctive use of allusion by considering each of his three conclusions” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 248, 249).
The End of the Nephites: book of Mormon 8:1-12
8:5 “…he hath written the intent thereof.” See Mormon 5:14-15; 7:9-10
8:5 “…and ore I have not…” From where do we get the idea that the plates were made of gold? The Book of Mormon makes no mention of them being made of gold.
8:10 “…the Lord would not suffer them to remain with the people…” See book of Mormon 1:13, 16
The Record to Come Forth: book of Mormon 8:13-22
8:13 “…single to his glory…” Here Moroni explicitly states what is defined as God’s glory, and that is – doing that which is for the welfare of God’s ancient covenant people.
8:13-16 “One of the notable things about this passage is how much of the language is familiar. Indeed, each of the following phrases in italics appeared in prophecy ascribed to Joseph of Egypt (as quoted by Lehi in 2 Nephi 3), regarding a book that his posterity would someday write:
“which shall be of great worth unto them” 2 Nephi 3:7
“unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light” 2 Nephi 3:5 (cf. 1 Peter 2:9)
“that the seer will the Lord bless” 2 Nephi 3:14
“power to bring for th my word” 2 Nephi 3:11
(Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 250)
8:16 “…according to the will of God…” Perhaps this is referring to Alma 37:23-25 Cf. 2 Nephi 3:5
8:17 “…if there be faults they be the faults of man…he that condemneth, let him be aware lest…” This is some interesting logic that Moroni is using. Essentially he is saying, “Ya, there might be some mistakes in the record. I don’t know of any, but God might. Oh, ya….and don’t point out any of the mistakes or yo will be in big trouble!!” I don’t know what to even say to that. I like Jared Anderson’s approach to scripture: “Let the scriptures challenge you, and you should challenge the scriptures.”
“…The result of all this [Moroni] fears, will be an almost complete failure to persuade his ultimate audience – the Gentiles of the latter-days. He worries that his efforts will spark derision rather than conversion” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, 220)
Another view of what Moroni means when he is speaking of “condemning” the Book of Mormon, isn’t so much of the errors that are due to the fallibility of the record-keepers, but rather condemning the message, the theology, and the manner in which the Book of Mormon was revealed to Joseph Smith.
8:18 “…show unto me…lest he commandeth that which is forbidden…” I wonder if Royal Skousen has done any work regarding the dates of when certain passages of the Book of Mormon were revealed to Joseph Smith. I think we can safely assume that this part of the Book of Mormon was revealed after the 116 original pages had been lost by Martin Harris.
8:20 Grant Hardy notes: “The last half of this quotation is from Romans 12:29, which quoted Deuteronomy 32:35. See also Mormon 3:15” (Grant Hardy, The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition, pg. 572, note d20).
The Day When the Record Will Come Forth: book of Mormon 8:23-8:41
“The fact that so much of Mormon 8:13-16 repeats wording from a short passage much earlier in the Book of Mormon may seem like an odd coincidence until we come to Mormon 8:22-25, where the same phenomenon recurs, again connecting Mormon 8 with 2 Nephi 3 (borrowed words are indicated by italics; similar themes are in bold):
promises shall be fulfilled (2 Nephi 3:14)…cry…from the dust (2 Nephi 3:19-20)…remember the covenant which he hath made (2 Nephi 3:21)….he knoweth their faith (2 Nephi 3:19)…their prayers were also in behalf of him that the Lord should suffer to bring these things forth (2 Nephi 3:21)….for out of the earth shall they come, by the hand of the lord (2 Nephi 3:15)
One might argue that this sort of repetition happens all the time, simply as a result of Joseph Smith’s limited vocabulary, speech habits, or common Book of Mormon themes, but the possibility of intentionality increase when we recognize that several of these phrases occur only in Mormron 8 and 2 Nephi 3, or nealry so:
Phrase: bring(ing)…”out of darkness unto light” number of occurrences in 2 Ne. 3/Mormon 8 (2) Number of occurrences elsewhere (1) (Alma 37:25)
Phrase: [name] “will the Lord bless” number of occurrences in 2 Ne. 3/Mormon 8: (2) Number of occurrences elsewhere (0)
Phrase: “promise(s)…shall be fulfilled” number of occurrences in 2 Ne. 3/Mormon 8 (2) Number of occurrences elsewhere (0)
Phrase: “the Lord know(eth) their faith” number of occurrences in 2 Ne. 3/Mormon 8 (2) Number of occurrences elsewhere (0)
Phrase:“cry…from the dust” number of occurrences in 2 Ne. 3/Mormon 8 (3) Number of occurrences elsewhere (2) 2Ne.33:13;Eth8:24
It appears that in addition to whatever else he may be doing in book of Mormon 8:13-26, Moroni is also responding to the prophecy of Joseph of Egypt that was quoted in 2 Nephi 3. The near proximity of a string of closely related allusion means that when we imagine Moroni writing, we are meant to picture him poring over a prior text, reflecting on how its words pertain to him, and pulling out distinctive phrases to reuse in his own writing (much as in the last chapter we saw him borrowing phrases from First Nephi to retell the story of Jaredites)” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 250, 251).
8:23 Perhaps this is referring to Enos 1:16
8:24 “…remove mountains…” See Jacob 4:6; Helaman 10:9; Ether 12:30
8:24 “…cause the earth to shake…” See Helaman 5:27
8:24 “…cause prisons to tumble to the earth…” See Alma 14:27; 3 Nephi 28:29; 4 Nephi 1:30; Ether 12:13 (of course Mormon hadn’t inserted the Jaredite record into the Book of Mormon yet.)
8:24 “…fiery furnace could not….” See 3 Nephi 28:21; 4 Nephi 1:32
8:24 “…neither wild beasts…” See 3 Nephi 28:22; 4 Nephi 1:33
8:25 “…these things forth.” This is referring to the writings in the Book of Mormon. Note the shift to the singular (it) in verse 26 (Hardy, A Reader’s Edition, pg. 573, note h25).
8:26 “…they shall…come…” See, for example: 1 Nephi 13:35; 3 Nephi 21:3-7
8:26-41 “[These] fifteen verses are so dense with the connections to 2 Nephi 26-28, chapters in which Nephi prophetically descries the same era, that they read like a paraphrase….Oddly enough, even though he claims to have witnessed these condition for himself in a vision (8:24-35), Moroni nevertheless chooses to present his observations in Nephi’s words, employing here some two dozen allusions to the earlier writer’s accounts. (In fact, the densely allusive style of writing we see in Moroni’s chapters is reminiscent of the way that Nephi synthesized his own prophecies with those of Isaiah and Joseph of Egypt in 2 Nephi 25-33 – writing that , according to the Book of Mormon chronology , would have recently come into Mormon’s hands.)” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 252).
8:36, 37 “…fine apparel..” I am presently in the middle of teaching a lesson to my priest quorum about modesty. One of the things that I am stressing is that modesty needs to be broadened to include expensive clothing that is worn to show off one’s wealth.
8:36-40 I usually despise lists of orthopraxy, but this list that Moroni lays out speaks to me at a deep level. Maybe it is because it is speaking of how we should treat others.
A Message for Those Who Do Not Believe in Christ: book of Mormon 9:1-6
If Moroni, in book of Mormon 8, looks to the language of the first narrator in the Book of Mormon, in the next chapter he forges connections with its last author, Mormon, who had also prophesied about the generation when the book would be published….In Mormon 9, Moroni expands Mormon’s distinction into separate sections (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 253)
9:4 “…ye would be miserable to dwell with a holy and just God,…” Imagine how uncomfortable you would feel going into a nice restaurant, where ties must be worn by the men, and just wearing sweats.
A Message for Those Who Do Not Believe in Miracles: book of Mormon 9:7-29
9:7 “…deny the revelations of God…”
Mormon exhibited a keen interest in evidence and argumentation, especially in demonstrating when prophetic warnings are fulfilled. Moroni, by contrast, appears to have given up on the idea that his readers could be persuaded through historical evidence. Although he certainly believes that God’s promises will come to pass (book of Mormon 8:22, 33), he realizes that many of his readers will “deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations,nor prophecies” . Consequently, he does not bother to note the sort of prophecy/fulfillment connections that characterized Mormon’s history….Moroni knew that the these [Jaredite] predictions are true (see Mosiah 8:8; Ether 14:23), but he never explicitly makes the point. Similarly, he never references the startlingly exact prophecies of Alma and Samuel that the Nephites would be destroyed four hundred years after the coming of Jesus (Alma 45:10; Helaman 13:5-9), even though he saw this take place on schedule (book of Mormon 8:6).
…Instead Moroni seems to believe that only God can convince skeptical latter-day readers of the truth of his account. In a verse beloved by Latter-day Saints missionaries, he urges that “when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true…he will manifest the truth of it unto you , by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4) In book of Mormon 9:25 (cf. v. 21) We first met Moroni, he assured his readers that God wold confirm all his words “whosoever shall believe in [“Jesus”] name, doubting nothing”….Moroni does not think that he can prove the truth of his account; rather, he appeals to his readers to exercise faith, trusting that this will lead the receptive to a personal encounter with god’s affirming Spirit.
…Since Moroni believes that spiritual knowledge depends more on prayer and revelation than on historical research, we might expect him to take a different approach to the task of writing history than his father, and that is exactly what we find….Because [Moroni] edits so differently, he subtly undercuts the significance of his father’s literary achievement even as he celebrates it. How important are facts in the end? Does the careful balancing of historical details and literary presentation really matter when all we truly need is the witness of the Spirit? Or perhaps Moroni’s attitude reflects not a disagreement over basic principles so much as a frustration. In this interpretation, Moroni is not dismissing his father’s efforts or sensibilities, but he despairs – rightly, as it turns out – that they will not gain Mormon the respect he deserves. Instead, prideful future readers will mock, and there is really no compelling retort (especially without any culturally specific New Word archaeological evidence to support Mormon’s scrupulous historiographical details) (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 224,225).
9:9 “…same yesterday, today, and forever…” See 2 Nephi 2:4; 27:23; 29:9; Cf. Hebrews 13:8
9:9 “…is no variableness, neither shadow of changing?” See James 1:27
9:19 “…unchangeable Being?” The theological term for the “unchangeableness” of god is immutable. Out of the doctrine of God’s immutability has come the doctrine that God is impassible. That is, God does not experience pain nor pleasure due to the act of other beings. The latter (God’s impassibility) seems to be in direct conflict with the Mormon “God who weeps”.
9:19 “…he would cease to be God…” Why? Because God’s immutability is a necessary attribute of God. Let me explain. There are things that exist necessarily and others that exist contingently. Meaning, there are things that must exist, and cannot not exist; and there are things which existence is contingent upon something(one) else. Example: God is a necessary being – He cannot, not exist. A table is contingent – it’s existence is dependent upon someone actually making the table. Likewise, there are attributes that are contingent and others that are necessary. There are certain necessary attributes that a cat must posses in order to be considered a cat; if it does not posses those necessary attributes, it cannot be a cat. Likewise, there are certain attributes that God necessarily possess. If He did not posses those necessary attributes, He would not be God.
9:25 This charge is not recorded in 3 Nephi, but is found in Mark 16:15-18
9:28 “..ask not, that..” or it could be punctuated: “..ask, not that..” (Hardy, A Reader’s Edition, pg. 577, note a28)
Moroni2 Comments on This Record: book of Mormon 9:30-37
9:31-36 “In the last several verses of Mormon 9, he slips from the first-person singular into the plural, speaking not only for himself but also explicitly for his father and all those “who have written before him”. It is as if he were saying, From Nephi to Mormon to me. And it ends here” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 254)
9:32 “Reformed Egyptian”
Critics who raise the objection seem to be operating under the false impression that reformed Egyptian is used in the Book of Mormon as a proper name. In fact, the word reformed is used in the Book of Mormon in this context as an adjective, meaning “altered, modified, or changed.” This is made clear by Mormon, who tells us that “the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, [were] handed down and altered by us” and that “none other people knoweth our language” (book of Mormon 9:32, 34). First we should emphasize that Mormon is describing Egyptian characters, or what we today would call a script or writing system. It is the form or shape of the characters or symbols that was altered by the Nephites. Nephite reformed Egyptian is thus a unique script. It derived from the Egyptian writing systems but then was modified and adapted to suit Nephite language and writing materials.
The fact that modern linguists and philologists don’t know of a script known as reformed Egyptian is irrelevant, since Mormon tells us that the script was called reformed Egyptian “by us,” that is, by the Nephites; they may have been the only people to use that descriptive phrase. For example, both the terms cuneiform and hieroglyphics are non-Egyptian terms for the scripts of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. The Mesopotamians did not call their writing system cuneiform, nor did the Egyptians call their writing system hieroglyphics. Nevertheless, we would not insist that the Mesopotamians and Egyptians never existed because they did not call their writing systems by the same names used by modern historians, philologists, and archaeologists.
Does the Book of Mormon’s assertion that the Nephites took Egyptian characters and modified them to write Hebrew words make historical and linguistic sense? It is a common phenomenon for a basic writing system to undergo significant changes in the course of time, especially when written with new writing materials. Turning specifically to Egyptian, there are numerous examples of modified (or reformed) Egyptian characters being used to write non-Egyptian languages, none of which were known in Joseph Smith’s day.
Examples of “reformed Egyptian”
Egyptian hieratic and demotic. The Egyptian language was written in three related but distinct scripts. The oldest is hieroglyphic script, dating to around 3000 B.C.; it was essentially a monumental script for stone inscriptions. Hieratic, a second script, is a modified form of Egyptian hieroglyphics used to write formal documents on papyrus with brush and ink, and demotic is a cursive script. Thus, both the hieratic and demotic scripts could be considered “reformed” or modified versions of the original hieroglyphic script. These are both examples of writing the Egyptian language in reformed versions of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script; there are also several examples of the use of reformed or modified Egyptian characters to write non-Egyptian languages.
Byblos Syllabic texts. The earliest known example of mixing a Semitic Ianguage with modified Egyptian hieroglyphic characters is the Byblos Syllabic inscriptions (eighteenth century B.C.), from the city of Byblos on the Phoenician coast. This script is described as a “syllabary [that] is clearly inspired by the Egyptian hieroglyphic system, and in fact is the most important link known between the hieroglyphs and the Canaanite alphabet.” Interestingly enough, most Byblos Syllabic texts were written on copper plates. Thus, it would not be unreasonable to describe the Byblos Syllabic texts as a Semitic language written on metal plates in “reformed Egyptian characters,” which is precisely what the Book of Mormon describes.
Cretan hieroglyphics. Early forms of writing in Crete apparently developed from a combination of “Egyptian hieroglyphic, Mesopotamian cuneiform and Phoenician native signs into one single, new pictographic script.” Note again that there is a mixture of Semitic (Mesopotamian and Phoenician) and Egyptian writing systems, precisely as described in the Book of Mormon.
Meroitic. Meroitic, the script of ancient Nubia (modern Sudan), “was first recorded in writing in the second century B.C. in an ‘alphabetic’ script consisting of twenty-three symbols, most of which were borrowed or at least derived from Egyptian writing….The script has two forms, hieroglyphic and cursive.” Meroitic hieroglyphic signs were “borrowed from the Egyptian…[and] the cursive script derived mainly from the Egyptian demotic script.”
Psalm 20 in demotic Egyptian. Scholars have also recently deciphered an Aramaic version of Psalm 20:2—6 that was written in demotic Egyptian characters. This is precisely what the Book of Mormon claims existed: a version of the Hebrew scriptures in the Hebrew language, but written using Egyptian characters.
Proto-Sinaitic and the alphabet. Semitic speakers of early second millennium B.C. Syria and Palestine seem to have adopted reformed or modified versions of both Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform into syllabic and alphabetic systems of writing. Ultimately, this reformed Egyptian script became the basis for the Phoenician alphabet, from which nearly all subsequent alphabets derive. “The Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions were written in a Semitic language, and…their letters were the prototypes for the Phoenician alphabet. The letters are alphabetic, acrophonic in origin, and consonantal, and their forms are derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs.” “Since the Canaanite/Phoenician syllabary formed the basis of the Greek alphabet, and the Greek in turn of the Latin, it means, in the words of Gardiner, that ‘the hieroglyphs live on, though in transmuted [or could we not say reformed?] form, within our own alphabet.'” In a very real sense, our own Latin alphabet is itself a type of reformed Egyptian, since the ultimate source of our characters is Egyptian hieroglyphics.
There are thus a number of historical examples of Semitic or other languages being written in “reformed” or modified Egyptian script; the Book of Mormon account is entirely plausible on this point. (http://text.farmsresearch.com/publications/transcripts/?id=36)
With the original tongue of the Nephites being Hebrew, what is Egyptian must be the script. A Hebrew dialect written in Egyptian script fulfills all the conditions set forth by both the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith for the “language” of the Book of Mormon (John Gee, “La Trahison des Clercs: On the Language and Translation of the Book of Mormon,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6/1 (1994): 79—83, 94—99).
9:31 “it is somewhat surprising that Mormonism -generally regarded as an optimistic, forward-looking faith – has as its foundational scripture such an unrelenting record of human folly and ruin” (Hardy, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 8)
[End of Moroni2 Finishes His Father’s Book: book of Mormon 8:1-9:37]