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About Neal Rappleye

Neal Rappleye is a research project manager for Book of Mormon Central. He blogs about Latter-day Saint topics at http://www.studioetquoquefide.com/

“The Time is Past”: A Note on Samuel’s Five-Year Prophecy

Abstract:1 The story of believers being nearly put to death before the appearance of the sign at Christ’s birth is both inspiring and a little confusing. According to the Book of Mormon, the sign comes in the 92nd year, which was actually the sixth year after the prophecy had been made. There is little wonder why even some believers began to doubt. The setting of a final date by which the prophecy must be fulfilled, however, suggests that until that day, there must have been reason for even the nonbelievers to concede that fulfillment was still possible; yet after that deadline it was definitively too late. An understanding of Mesoamerican timekeeping practices and terminology provides one possible explanation.

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“With the Tongue of Angels”: Angelic Speech as a Form of Deification

Abstract: The “tongue of angels”1 has long been a point of interest to Latter-day Saints, who wonder whether it really is as simple as speaking under the influence of the Spirit or if it might mean something more. Drawing on the structure of Nephi’s record and the interactions with angels that Nephi recorded, we learn that this notion of speaking with the tongue of angels has connections with ancient Israelite temple worship and the divine council. Nephi places the act of speaking with the tongue of angels at the culmination of a literary ascent, where one must pass through a gate (baptism) and by a gatekeeper (the Holy Ghost). This progression makes rich allusions to imagery in the visions of Lehi, Nephi, and Isaiah, where these prophets were brought into the presence of the Lord, stood in the divine council, and were commissioned to declare the words of the Lord. Nephi’s carefully crafted narrative teaches that all are both invited and commanded to follow the path that leads to entrance into the Lord’s presence, and ultimately grants membership into the heavenly assembly. Continue reading

“Idle and Slothful Strange Stories”: Book of Mormon Origins and the Historical Record

Abstract: From the very beginning, Joseph’s story about the origins of the Book of Mormon seemed wild and unbelievable. Today, however, Joseph’s account enjoys a high degree of corroboration from (1) eyewitness accounts confirming Joseph’s possession of actual metal plates and other artifacts, with some even corroborating the involvement of an angel in providing access to the record; (2) eyewitness reports on the process of producing the text; and (3) evidence from the original manuscript. This evidence is reviewed here, and the implications it has for the Book of Mormon’s origin are considered. Continue reading

Learning Nephi’s Language: Creating a Context for 1 Nephi 1:2

Nephi’s Language Without Context: An Enigma

It was not long after the Book of Mormon was published before Nephi’s statement that he wrote using “the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2) started raising eyebrows.1 It has continued to perplex even the best LDS scholars, who have put forward no fewer than five different interpretations of the passage.2 Some have even pointed out that there seems to be no logical reason for Nephi’s statement, since anyone who could read the text would know what language it was written in.3 Continue reading

The Deuteronomist Reforms and Lehi’s Family Dynamics: A Social Context for the Rebellions of Laman and Lemuel

Over the last few years, several Latter-day Saint scholars have commented on how the socio-religious setting of Judah in the late-seventh century bc informs and contextualizes our reading of the Book of Mormon, especially that of 1 and 2 Nephi. Particular emphasis has been placed on how Lehi and Nephi appear to have been in opposition to certain changes implemented by the Deuteronomists at this time, but Laman’s and Lemuel’s views have only been commented on in passing. In this paper, I seek to contextualize Laman and Lemuel within this same socio-religious setting and suggest that, in opposition to Lehi and Nephi, they were supporters of the Deuteronomic reforms. Continue reading