A Covenant Plan of Salvation
2 Nephi TitleThe Second Book of Nephi:
According to Noel B. Reynolds, the narrative between the first and second books written by Nephi is continuous. The events described at the end of the first book could easily have transpired on the same day or hour as those at the beginning of the second. Yet Nephi chose to make his largest structural break at this point. The internal structure of 1 Nephi emphasizes its separate character as a literary unit (see Reynolds, "Nephi's Outline," FARMS, 1996). It would seem that 1 Nephi constitutes an elaborate introduction to the final presentation in Nephi's argument for his right to be a "ruler and teacher" over his brethren (see 1 Nephi 2:16-24; 3:29). Here in chapters 1-4, Nephi gives verbatim accounts of Lehi's blessings to his own and Ishmael's sons and to Zoram, shortly before his own death. These blessings define the subsequent tribal order of these peoples and systematically refute the traditions of the Lamanites as they had emerged by the time of Nephi's writing. In Lehi's own mouth we find the explanations for his choice of Nephi over Laman and Lemuel. These four chapters invoke the authority of the patriarch himself to support (1) the revelations from God describing this land of promise and the role of Nephi as a teacher and ruler in it, (2) the teachings about the Messiah and the redemption he brings to men, which was an essential plank in Nephi's defense of his position, and (3) the authoritative patriarchal designation of Nephi as the one to whom all the others must hearken if they are to realize their patriarchal blessings--and the spiritual blessings of a loving God. All of 1 Nephi builds up to these chapters and provides the essential background for them. . . .
In 2 Nephi 5, Nephi concludes his case against the Lamanite tradition which challenges his authority over the Lehite colony. In later chapters in 2 Nephi he preaches the doctrines of Christ through the teachings of his brother Jacob, the writings of Isaiah, and his own concluding sermons. But the historical part of the argument ends in chapter 5. [Noel B. Reynolds, "The Political Dimension in Nephi's Small Plates," FARMS, 1987, pp. 28-29, 35]
2 Nephi Superscription Nephi's Brethren Rebel (Third Person):
The superscription to Second Nephi reads as follows:
"An account of the death of Lehi. Nephi's brethren rebel against him. The Lord warns Nephi to depart into the wilderness. His journeyings in the wilderness, &c."
This superscription was part of the original text and not a later addition. What is interesting is the fact that it is written in third person, while the rest of the Small Plates are written in first person, with the exception of Mormon's added words of explanation as to why the small plates were included (Words of Mormon). This might affect the way one views the process of how the plates were first written (a previously scripted composition), or how they were added to Mormon's abridgment (perhaps Mormon transcribed them onto his plates). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi Superscription]