“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