Mormon 9

 

A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni


 

 

Mormon 9:2 The Lamb:

 

     [For interesting commentary relative to "the Lamb," see 1 Nephi 10:10; 11:32-33; 12:11; 12:18; 13:28; 13:39; 14:3]

 

Mormon 9:11-13 (Climax):

 

     According to Donald Parry, parallelism is universally recognized as the characteristic feature of biblical Hebrew poetry. (p. i) Apparently, the prophets and writers of the scriptures employed the repetition of alternating parallel lines for the purpose of reinforcing their teachings and doctrines. (p. x)

     Climax is a form of staircase parallelism, because it demonstrates to the reader a gradual ascent through the recurrence of several identical words. This duplication of words creates a continuation of thought from one sentence to the next, which adds power through repetition to the discourse, while at the same time connecting the lines into an inseparable body. (p. xviii) A good example of Climax is found in Mormon 9:11-13:

Behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the

God of Abraham, and the

God of Isaac, and the

God of Jacob; and it is that same

God who

created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. Behold he

created

Adam, and by

Adam came the

fall of man. and because of the

fall of man came

Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of

Jesus Christ came the

redemption of man. And because of the

redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ,

they are brought back into the presence of the Lord;

[Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, pp. 449-450]

 

     According to Parry, this striking passage contains two types of gradational parallelisms, climax (a climax of words) and anabasis (a climax of rhetoric, or a climax of sense).3 The climax of words is underscored and includes the duplication of the terms or phrases Adam, the fall of man, Jesus Christ, and redemption of man. Each is repeated twice, creating four parallel statements.

     The climax of sense is determined by examining the actual theological concept taught by the prophet. It begins with Adam and the fall, and concludes with Jesus Christ and the redemption of mankind. First came the creation of Adam, who caused the "fall of man" (in Hebrew, Adam means "man," "mankind"), which of necessity brought Jesus Christ and his atonement, through which came the "redemption of man," which enables Adam ("man") to return "back into the presence of the Lord." The verse's climax is clear: it is because of the eternal roles of Adam and Jesus Christ that men "are brought back into the presence of the Lord." [Donald W. Parry, "Power through Repetition," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 298-299]

 

Mormon 9:22-24 Thus Said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto His Disciples:

 

     According to Bruce Van Orden, in the midst of Moroni's challenge to readers of the Book of Mormon to exercise faith and build trust in Jesus Christ, Moroni cited a statement the Lord made to his disciples when he visited them in the New World:

           Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; And these signs shall follow them that believe . . . (Mormon 9:22-24)

 

     We otherwise do not have this full statement in the Book of Mormon, although the concept of believing and being baptized is in 3 Nephi 11:33-34. . .

     We may note that Jesus' statement to his Nephite disciples mirrors almost exactly what he said to his Jerusalem apostles following his resurrection when he met with them in the Upper Room as recorded in Mark 16:15-17. Many biblical scholars, noting that the text of Mark 16:9-20 was not found in the earliest extant manuscripts, have concluded that these verses were added to the text in the second century by an editor named Aristion (or Ariston) and that these passages are therefore not "Markan" (Interpreter's Bible 7:915-16). But the Book of Mormon confirms that the Lord indeed taught these principles. It undoubtedly parallels what the Savior taught in the Old World. We also have a briefer account of these teachings the Lord gave to Moroni as he abridged the Jaredite record (Ether 4:18). Thus the Book of Mormon has two witnesses of Jesus' teachings recorded in Mark. This is yet another instance wherein the Book of Mormon text verifies the legitimacy of the biblical text. [Bruce A. Van Orden, "Preach the Gospel to Every Creature," in The Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, pp. 324-325]

 

Mormon 9:24 They Shall Lay Hands on the Sick and They Shall Recover:

 

     In Mormon 9:24 we find: "And these signs shall follow them that believe--in my name shall . . . they lay hands on the sick and they shall recover."

     According to Vicki Alder, when the Lord healed someone, He often touched the afflicted area of their body. For example, when Peter cut off the ear of the centurion, Jesus "touched his ear and healed him" (Luke 22:51) At times it is also recorded that Jesus anointed the person with a substance. For example, Jesus anointed the eyes of a blind man with a substance. (John 9:6-7) Jesus put His fingers in a man's ears and anointed his tongue with a substance, and he was healed. (Mark 7:32-35)

     It is interesting to note that in the early days of the restored Church, the anointing oil was often applied directly to the part of the body that was to be healed or restored and sometimes the oil was taken internally.4 However, according to Joseph Smith, laying on of hands is the "sign" of the healing of the sick. He said: "What is the sign of the healing of the sick? The laying on of hands is the sign or way marked out by James, and the custom of the ancient Saints as ordered by the Lord, and we cannot obtain the blessings by pursuing any other course except the way marked out by the Lord." (Teachings, pp. 198-199)

     After Christ's death and ascension, the "laying on of hands" method of healing was used by His disciples. It was promised to them: "they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:18, see Acts 3:7, 9:17, 28:8; Mormon 9:24) [Vicki Alder, Mysteries in the Scriptures: Enlightenment through Ancient Beliefs, pp. 242-244]

 

Mormon 9:25 Whosoever Shall Believe in My Name, Doubting Nothing, unto Him Will I Confirm All My Words, Even unto the Ends of the Earth:

 

     Thomas Mackay notes that in Mormon 9:22-25 we find that Moroni cites the Lord's injunction to his Nephite disciples or apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature . . ." This passage is parallel to Mark 16:15-18. Interestingly however, there is no full parallel in the New Testament for Mormon 9:25 ("Whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth") except in James 1:5-6. Moreover, Mormon 9:22-24 gives cause for scholars to accept the longer ending of Mark as authentic early Christian scripture, despite textual questions based on manuscript tradition. [Thomas W. Mackay, "Mormon and the Destruction of Nephite Civilization," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, pp. 242, 244]

 

Mormon 9:26 (Anaphora):

 

     According to Donald Parry, parallelism is universally recognized as the characteristic feature of biblical Hebrew poetry. (p. i)

     Apparently, the prophets and writers of the scriptures employed the repetition of alternating parallel lines for the purpose of reinforcing their teachings and doctrines. (p. x)

     Anaphora is defined as an identical word or set of words which begin two or more consecutive clauses. Anaphoric clauses abound in the scriptures. (p. xxxvi) A good example of Anaphora is found in Mormon 9:26:

And now behold,

who can stand against the works of the Lord?

Who can deny his sayings?

Who will rise up against the almighty power of the Lord?

Who will despise the works of the Lord?

Who will despise the children of Christ?

Behold, all ye who are despisers of the works of the Lord, for ye shall wonder and perish.

[Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, p. 451]

 

Mormon 9:30 I Speak unto You as Though I Spake from the Dead:

 

     Both Mormon and Moroni indicated that they spoke as though "from the dead" to a latter-day audience (Mormon 9:30). Richard Rust notes that one of the ways in which "dead" people speak is through the repetition of recorded events. These events affect people in different ages in similar ways.

     Repetition links scriptural narratives together in what Robert Alter in The Art of Biblical Narrative calls "a kind of rhythm of thematic significance."5 He says, "Recurrence, parallels, analogy are the hallmarks of reported action in the biblical tale. . . . The two most distinctively biblical uses of repeated action are when we are given two versions of the same event and when the same event, with minor variations, occurs at different junctures of the narrative, usually involving different characters or sets of characters.''6 Alter calls the recurrence of the same event a "type-scene" and considers it "a central organizing convention of biblical narrative."7 Some examples Alter notes are an annunciation to a barren woman (Rebekah, Sarah, Hannah), the encounter with the future betrothed at the well (Abraham's servant and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Moses and Jethro's daughter), and a life-threatening trial in the wilderness (Ishmael, Isaac).8

     The skillful use of repetition and contrast in the Book of Mormon as a principle of reinforcement and witness can be appreciated by close examination of various narrative threads woven by Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. While it might be argued that some repetition and contrast in the Book of Mormon is accidental, there are evidences that the narrators such as Mormon and Moroni purposefully included parallel materials to instruct and convince. It seems that every important action, event, or character is repeated in the Book of Mormon. A few examples are as follows:

     We find that two wealthy men (Lehi, Amulek) lost their riches as they pursue prophetic callings. Kings Benjamin and Limhi each assemble their people in order to speak to them. Two sons of kings (Ammon and his brother Aaron) speak with kings (Lamoni and his father). Alma2 and Lamoni fall into trances in which they appear to be dead. Two detailed accounts are given of prophets threatened within a prison (Alma2 and Amulek, Nephi and Lehi). Two Lamanite leaders (who also are brothers) are killed by a spear within their tents. And prophets (Abinadi, Alma2, Samuel) are cast out of cities and then return at the Lord's bidding. Further, prophet-leaders (Lehi, Zeniff, Mosiah) gather people to read records to them. Antichrists (notably Sherem, Korihor, and Nehor) lead people to follow their iniquities. A man named Ammon living in the time of King Mosiah is captured and taken before King Limhi--and ends up helping Limhi's people escape from captivity. Mosiah's son Ammon is captured and taken before the Lamanite king Lamoni and helps save Lamoni's people both spiritually and physically. And three prophets, Alma2, Nephi2 (the son of Helaman), and Samuel the Lamanite, depart out of the land and are "never heard of more," with it being the implication that Alma2, at least, is translated and does not taste of death (Alma 45:19).

     Thus repetitions in the Book of Mormon emphasize not only the law of witnesses at work within the book, but people speaking "from the dead." [Richard D. Rust, "Recurrence in Book of Mormon Narratives," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 3, Num. 1 (Spring 1994), pp. 40-43]

 

Mormon 9:31-33 Reformed Egyptian

 

     The Book of Mormon proclaimed that it was written in "reformed Egyptian" because it was more efficient (taking up less space) than Hebrew (1 Nephi 1:2; Mosiah 1:4; Mormon 9:31-33; Ether 12:23-28, 35). Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that when the Book of Mormon was first published, the idea of Hebrews writing in Egyptian must have sounded quite ludicrous. However, one hundred years after the Book of Mormon was first published, scholars found evidence of hieratic (shortened ) Egyptian and demotic (a shorthand, even more brief than hieratic). Thus, the Book of Mormon is substantiated again. Hubert Grimme, Professor of Semitic Language at Munster University has published his findings of ancient engravings on the Sinai Peninsula from 1500 B.C. in pure Hebrew language but the script was hieratic Egyptian "somewhat changed." In the same source, Grimme proves that the Incas and Mayas used Egyptian hieratic script by slightly altering it. (Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 149) 9

     Modern studies been conducted to determine if the characters copied from the plates by Joseph Smith are indeed authentic. It was concluded that each character has at least one counterpart with ancient writing samples from the Middle East. For example, one character form showing a horizontal line with eight perpendicular strokes above it (see the illustration below) has been recognized as a glyph called the "sign of the chessboard."10

     Another character form that has drawn much criticism is the one resembling a cursive capital "H" (see illustration below). This, too appears authentic--representing the meaning "to write" or "writing." Joseph Smith could not have gained access to a demotic (reformed) Egyptian alphabet or a dictionary of this ancient language during the translation of the Book of Mormon. Such resources would not be available for another century until the works of Brugsch, Spiegelberg, Erman, Grapow, Budge, Petrie, Young, Tatam, Lepsius, Birch, Gardiner, etc., were all published years after the first publication of the Book of Mormon. (See Ariel Crowley, About the Book of Mormon, pp. 20-38)11 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, pp. 254-256]

 

Mormon 9:31-33 Reformed Egyptian [Illustration]: Reformed Egyptian characters from the Book of Mormon (left side of each column) and the Middle East (right side of each column). [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 256]

 

Mormon 9:32-33 Reformed Egyptian . . . [metal] plates.

 

     According to John Gee and John Tvedtnes, in early anti-Mormon literature, critics derided the Book of Mormon because of the claim that it had been:

     (1) written in the "reformed Egyptian"12 (Mormon 9:32);

     (2) "engraved" on metal plates (1 Nephi 9:2-3; Moroni 9:33). (They called it the "gold Bible."); and

     (3) concealed ("sealed") or buried in the earth with the intention of coming forth in a later time period (see Moroni 10:2). (Critics associated it with Joseph's supposed seeking for buried treasure.)

 

     Ironically, scholars have now found that the earliest extant manuscripts containing biblical text have the same three features that were stumbling blocks for early detractors of the Book of Mormon. One of these manuscripts was written on metal plates, one manuscript was written in reformed Egyptian scripts, and a set of manuscripts was concealed for future recovery:

     (1) The earliest of all known manuscripts displaying biblical text was found in 1980 when archaeologists opened an ancient tomb adjacent to the Scottish Presbyterian church of St. Andrew in Jerusalem. They discovered two small rolled-up strips of silver with a Hebrew inscription of the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26. From paleographic evidence (handwriting analysis), the scrolls have been dated to the end of the seventh century B.C. or the beginning of the sixth century B.C.--about the time Lehi left Jerusalem.13

     (2) The second-oldest-known manuscript citing a Bible text is written in Egyptian demotic script and dates to the fourth century B.C. Its date of discovery is unknown, but it was purchased in Egypt as part of a collection about 1875 by Lord Amherst of Hackney, England. Known as Papyrus Amherst 63, it includes a quote of Psalm 20:2-6. Though the language of the text is Aramaic, the language spoken by the Jews of that time, it is not written using the Aramaic alphabet. Instead it is written in Egyptian demotic, an ancient cursive script that can properly be called "reformed" Egyptian.14

     (3) Ranking third in age among known Bible manuscripts are the Dead Sea Scrolls. The oldest of these documents, discovered in 1948, is a copy of the book of Exodus (4Q17) written in the middle of the third century B.C. Like the Book of Mormon, the Dead Sea Scrolls were concealed in the earth to come forth at a later time.

 

     Time has a way of vindicating the prophets. [John Gee and John A. Tvedtnes, "Ancient Manuscripts Fit Book of Mormon Pattern," in Insights, February 1999, pp. 3-4]

 

Mormon 9:32-34 We Have Written This Record according to Our Knowledge, in the Characters Which Are Called among Us the Reformed Egyptian:

 

     In Mormon 9:32, Moroni notes that "we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech." According to Daniel Ludlow, Moroni's statement in Mormon 9:32-34 pertains to the Plates of Mormon and does not necessarily pertain to the Small Plates of Nephi from which we get the first 132 pages in our present Book of Mormon. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 177]

 

     According to Tvedtnes and Ricks, non-Latter-day Saint scholars and others have long scoffed at the idea that an Israelite group from Jerusalem should have written in Egyptian and mocked the term "reformed Egyptian" as non-sense. Since Joseph Smith's time, we have learned a great deal about Egyptian and Israelite records and realize that the Book of Mormon was correct in all respects.

     The ancient Egyptians used three types of writing systems. The most well known, the hieroglyphs (Greek for "sacred symbols"), comprised nearly 400 picture characters depicting things found in real life. A cursive script called hieratic (Greek for "sacred") was also used, principally on papyrus. Around 700 B.C., the Egyptians developed an even more cursive script that we call demotic (Greek for "popular"), which bore little resemblance to the hieroglyphs.15 Both hieratic and demotic were in use in Lehi's time and can properly be termed "reformed Egyptian." From the account in Mormon 9:32, it seems likely that the Nephites further reformed the characters. [John A. Tvedtnes and Stephen D. Ricks, "Jewish and Other Semitic Texts Written in Egyptian Characters," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 5/2 (1996), pp. 157-158]

 

Mormon 9:32-34 We Have Written This Record according to Our Knowledge, in the Characters Which are Called among Us the Reformed Egyptian:

 

     According to John Tvedtnes, in 1967, Israeli archaeologists discovered at the ancient site of Arad an ostracon (pottery fragment) from shortly before 600 B.C., the time of Lehi. The text on the ostracon is written in a combination of Egyptian hieratic and Hebrew characters, but can be read entirely as Egyptian. Of the seventeen words in the text, ten are written in hieratic and seven in Hebrew. This discovery suggests that when Lehi's son Nephi spoke of writing in a language consisting of "the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians" (1 Nephi 1:2) he may have used such a combination script. Two more examples of combination Egyptian-Hebrew scripts from the same time period were discovered in the northern Sinai peninsula during the late 1970's. [John A. Tvedtnes, "Reformed Egyptian," in The Most Correct Book, p. 24]

 

Mormon 9:33 If Our Plates Had Been Sufficiently Large:

 

     Concerning the "largeness" of the plates of Mormon and Moroni (Mormon 9:33), Robert F. Smith notes that a surprising amount of consistent information can be gleaned from eyewitnesses: Joseph himself gave us the length, width, and thickness of the whole set of plates as 6" x 8" x 6" in his famous Wentworth Letter.16 . . . Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer all suggested that the plates were "not quite as thick as common tin."17 . . . Tin in the early nineteenth century may have been around .02 inch or less . . . thus, each Book of Mormon plate could have been between .015-.02 inch thick. If each plate (allowing for air space and irregularities) occupied from .03-.05 inch, the six-inch thick collection would have contained between 120 and 200 plates. If each was engraved front and back, there were 240 to 400 surfaces. [Robert F. Smith, "The 'Golden Plates," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 275-276]

 

Mormon 9:33 If Our Plates Had Been Sufficiently Large We Should Have Written in Hebrew:

 

     According to Cleon Skousen, one of the most remarkable things about the ancient alphabets was their capacity to record a voluminous amount of information in a small amount of space. They were almost like some kind of shorthand. This is dramatically demonstrated by a Jewish convert to the Church, Henry Miller, who discovered that the entire Book of Mormon could be written on 41 pages if the Hebrew alphabet were used. . . Photographic plates of Henry Miller's translations will be found on pages 40 and 41 of J.M. Sjodahl's book, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon. But even these forms of writing were too voluminous for the writers in the Book of Mormon. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures From the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1027]

 

Mormon 9:33 If our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew (Illustration): Hebrew translation of 2 Nephi, Chapters 5:20 to 11:3 inclusive (about 14 and 3/4 pages of the English version). Used by permission, J.M. Sjodahl. [L.D.S. Church, Book of Mormon--1962 Seminary Edition, p. 569]

 

Mormon 9:33 If Our Plates Had Been Sufficiently Large We Should Have Written in Hebrew:

 

     Moroni states that his and his father's abridgment was written "in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian" (Mormon 9:32). He also states that "if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew," however, "the Hebrew hath been altered by us also" (Mormon 9:33).

     Although it is hard to know what Moroni meant when he said that "the Hebrew hath been altered by us also," Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that the sacred record was apparently "engraved" on gold plates in reformed Egyptian rather than Hebrew because Hebrew characters are not suitable for engraving, but are designed to be painted by brush strokes--each part of a given character having thicker or thinner brush strokes to convey a precise meaning. Thus, a greater amount of space would have been required to enable the recorder to make the characters sufficiently distinguishable for interpretation. Dr. Hugh Nibley points out that the Nephites saved much space by using Egyptian characters.18 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 251]

 

Mormon 9:33 The Hebrew Hath Been Altered by Us Also:

 

     Moroni seems to indicate in Mormon 9:33 that at least he and his father Mormon still knew a version of Hebrew, for he admits that "if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also." According to Warren and Ferguson, in the early 1960s, Pierre Agrinier gathered a 600 word vocabulary from a Zapotec village in Oaxaca, Mexico. Linguists found that 18% of these 600 words appeared to be cognate with Hebrew. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 203]

 

     In an ongoing doctrinal study, Brian Stubbs deals with the question of whether elements of Hebrew language could be detected among native tongues of the Uto-Aztecan family, which cover western North America, central and southern Mexico. . . . A primary paper presents 203 equivalences between Semitic and Uto-Aztecan. Material still being analyzed contains over two hundred additional possibilities. While the similarities do not demonstrate a clear Hebrew descendancy, they do suggest that Hebrew was one of the ancestor languages. What Stubbs suggests is that a process of "creolization" may have been involved. That is, a new "mixed" language was created from two or more active ones. This description matches quite well the description given by Moroni of the changes that had taken place in the Nephite language over the years--that the traditional language was handed down but altered according to the manner of their contemporary spoken language (see Mormon 9:32-34). [Based on research by Brian Stubbs, "Hebrew and Uto-Aztecan: Possible Linguistic Connections," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 279-281]