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About Kevin L. Tolley

Kevin Tolley earned a Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in Near Eastern Studies with a minor in Hebrew, a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in Theology, and is currently a PhD student in Hebrew Bible at Claremont School of Theology. He has taught seminary for ten years in Salt Lake City and for the last five years has taught in Southern California. He is currently the S&I Coordinator in Pomona, CA. He and his wife (the former RaShelle Wolf) and are the parents of five children.

To “See and Hear”

The world of the Nephite nation was born out of the world of seventh century bc Jerusalem. The traditions and tragedies of the nation of Judah set the stage for what would happen over the next ten centuries of Book of Mormon history. In his opening statements, Nephi tells of an explosion of divinely commissioned ministers preaching in the holy city. He declares that Jerusalem was a place of “many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent” (1 Nephi 1:4).1 Nephi alludes to the prophetic service of Jeremiah (c. bc 626-587), Zephaniah (c. bc 640-609, Obadiah (c. bc 587), Nahum,2 Habakkuk,3 Urijah,4 and possibly many others.5 This disproportionate number of prophets in the city was accompanied by an increasing wave of imitators.6 Amidst this apparent competition between valid and invalid prophetic representatives, Jeremiah sets a standard of who can be trusted in this visionary arena. As Stephen Smoot has written, “The Book of Mormon exhibits, in many respects, an intimate familiarity with ancient Israelite religious concepts. One such example is the Book of Mormon’s portrayal of the divine council. Following a lucid biblical pattern, the Book of Mormon provides a depiction of the divine council and several examples of those who were introduced into the heavenly assembly and made partakers in divine secrets.”7 It is this rich heritage of prophetic representatives of deity that so richly influenced Book of Mormon authors. Of these many prophets who were actively preaching in Jerusalem, Jeremiah stands out in Nephi’s writings (1 Nephi 5:13; 7:14). Jeremiah continues to be an influence on Nephite culture throughout their history (Helaman 8:20; cf. 3 Nephi 19:4). It will be Jeremiah’s writings that will influence the Nephite perspective on “Call Narratives” and views of the “Divine Council” throughout the Book of Mormon. Continue reading