Abstract: To the ancient Israelite ear, the name Ephraim sounded like or connoted “doubly fruitful.” Joseph explains the naming of his son Ephraim in terms of the Lord’s having “caused [him] to be fruitful” (Genesis 41:52). The “fruitfulness” motif in the Joseph narrative cycle (Genesis 37–50) constitutes the culmination of a larger, overarching theme that begins in the creation narrative and is reiterated in the patriarchal narratives. “Fruitfulness,” especially as expressed in the collocation “fruit of [one’s] loins” dominates in the fuller version of Genesis 48 and 50 contained in the Joseph Smith Translation, a version of which Lehi and his successors had upon the brass plates. “Fruit” and “fruitfulness” as a play on the name Ephraim further serve to extend the symbolism and meaning of the name Joseph (“may he [God] add,” “may he increase”) and the etiological meanings given to his name in Genesis 30:23–24). The importance of the interrelated symbolism and meanings of the names Joseph and Ephraim for Book of Mormon writers, who themselves sought the blessings of divine fruitfulness (e.g., Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob), is evident in their use of the fuller version of the Joseph cycle (e.g., in Lehi’s parenesis to his son Joseph in 2 Nephi 3). It is further evident in their use of the prophecies of Isaiah and Zenos’s allegory of the olive tree, both of which utilize (divine) “fruitfulness” imagery in describing the apostasy and restoration of Israel (including the Northern Kingdom or “Ephraim”).
Abstract: Repentance is considered one of the foundational principles of the gospel. As demonstrated in this article, there is a harmony in how repentance is portrayed in the Old Testament, New Testament, and Book of Mormon. In all three books the principle of repentance is shown to be a two-part process of turning away from sin and returning to the Lord through good works. Just as faith has been called “active belief,” repentance could be called “active remorse,” and must be accompanied by good works to be effective in our lives. The goal and end result of sincere repentance is a turning to the Lord with the whole heart, enabling us to return to the presence of God. Continue reading
Abstract: The Deseret Alphabet represents a bold but failed attempt by 19th century LDS Church leaders to revolutionize English language orthography. As 21st century members of the LDS Church, we can benefit from this less than successful experiment by studying the 1869 Deseret Alphabet Book of Mormon and learning how early church members most likely pronounced Book of Mormon names. Continue reading
Abstract: The double negative phrase “forbiddeth to abstain” as found in D&C 49:18 can be confusing and syntactically challenging for readers. While some have argued that the phrase should be read and understood literally, the Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints indicates that a literal reading is not correct. In this article I demonstrate that the phrase “forbid to abstain” was an accepted English idiom prior to and for a few decades following the receipt of D&C 49, even though it has vanished from contemporary usage completely. The meaning of this idiomatic expression was “command to abstain,” in opposition to its literal meaning. The probable origin of this expression is the Greek text of 1 Timothy 4:3, which in English partially reads “commanding to abstain from meats.” However, in Greek the phrase “commanding to abstain” would be rendered more correctly as “forbidding to abstain.” I conclude that the proper reading of “forbiddeth to abstain” in D&C 49:18 is the idiomatic rather than the literal one and that it should be understood as “commandeth to abstain.” Continue reading
Abstract: Dictionaries, especially Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, can be useful and informative resources to help us better understand the language of the Book of Mormon. This article compares definitions of words and phrases found in the book of 1 Nephi, using Webster’s 1828 dictionary and the New Oxford American Dictionary as references. By comparing these two dictionaries, we can see how word usage and meanings have changed since the original publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830. We can also gain a greater appreciation of the text of the Book of Mormon in a way that its first readers probably understood it. Continue reading