Lecture 63:
Alma 47

TEACHINGS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON
Semester 3, Lecture 63
Alma 47
Religious Brotherhoods
The World (Babylon)
Nomadic Warlords
In Alma 47 it becomes clear that there are different kinds of civilizations we are dealing with. We said last time that there are four different kinds. Why should there be four? Throughout the world—down at Lincoln Beach and all over South America, North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa you will find petroglyphs, and the commonest of all petroglyphs is this. That’s the quadrata. What do you think this stands for? It’s the sign of the cosmos. How do you think the most primitive people would be aware of the fact that it should be divided into no less than four parts? Those people are aware of it being on the earth because they look at the sky. What do you learn from the sky? In what direction does the sun rise? The sun goes down in the west and it comes up again in the east. Everybody notices that, you know. But today you’ll notice an interesting thing. This week we have the equinox. The ancients observed very closely the rising and setting of the sun. We know that. All over the world, especially in northern Europe, you find the megalithic stone circles. The Old Testament is full of them. Remember, Jacob set up the circle of twelve stones, which was very important. The covenant between Laban and Jacob was made at the ring of the twelve stones at dawn just as the sun came up. They marked the rising and setting of the sun very closely because it concerned them very much. If you’ll notice, there’s where the sun rose this morning, but tomorrow it will rise up there. Then it will go farther and farther north. Then you get the fixed north star that doesn’t move. Then all of a sudden at the solstice it changes its direction and starts back. This week it gets right in the middle. It’s half way between all the way south that it goes and all the way north. Then when you get up in the north it becomes very marked and very important to notice, because it means a great deal. So the earth is divided into four parts.

What goes along with these four parts, these four directions? Well, what about the four winds. Are there just four winds? No, but we gage them as four winds because that’s the way we can locate them on this pattern—north, south, east, west. There’s a northeast wind and then there’s a north by northwest wind, etc. You divide the windrows up on the quadrate pattern. Everything is in four. Along with that we have the four seasons. They are very important; they are basic.

What about human nature? You all know about that. How many humors do we have, Sister Alburn? Humors are the types of human beings. The four humors, yes. And what are they? Does anybody know what they are? The choleric (that’s bile), the melancholic (black bile), the phlegmatic, and the sanguine. Those are the four tempers. The sanguine is the eager beaver. The phlegmatic is the very opposite. The choleric is the short-tempered person who is hard to get along with. The melancholic person is the sad and brooding person, the lean and hungry type. There are these four types. Nobody is completely one type, but everybody is dominant in one type or the other. We still say that. There’s Type A and Type B. Type A, like me, gets heart attacks, and Type B doesn’t. We divide into types; we always have. That has been done since ancient times. This is the way the ancients divided it up. We are all mixtures of all four. There’s some of all of them in all of you, but one type will dominate in your particular case.

Far more elementary than the four types are the elements. How many elements are there? What are the four elements supposed to be? Earth, air, water, and fire in their degrees of coarseness. This is very ancient too. The earth is the heaviest, water is next, air is next, and fire is the lightest of all. You go up and up. But there are mixtures. The whole of medieval surgery, based on Galen, was that everybody is a mixture of these tempers. When one of these gets out of hand, when you get too much of one temper or one element, then a person is sick. You have to cure them and bring them to a balance again. So we have the four elements of which everything is composed. What are the four qualities of these elements? Wet, dry, hot, and cold. Everything falls into four, so it is natural that we should have four types of societies. Actually it would seem that there are these four types. They still talk about them. They thought they were brand new discoveries recently when people like Ruth Benedict at Columbia wrote a sensational book which he titled The Patterns of Culture. And in the early nineteenth century Kretachmer wrote The Physical Build and Character on the four physical builds. There’s the picnic type (the fat type), the athletic type (the balanced type), the kinesthetic type (the long, thin type), etc. So it goes, the four types of being. This was taken as real science all through the nineteenth century. And they are always mixed.

Now the Book of Mormon gives us four societies, and they are sharply defined in the Book of Mormon. They are always in conflict; they hate each other. They are all mixed too. We have some of this in all of us, as Walt Whitman tells us. There are attractions to each type, and there are virtues in each type—attractive qualities and weaknesses and vices in each type. The excess of any of them is ruin. We’ll put the four types on the board that we have in the Book of Mormon here and everywhere else. First I talked about the brotherhoods. That’s a fancy name to give them. This is unique, set apart, something strange. This is the church. These are the people of Israel. These are the chosen people that there are on the earth, an elect and special group. They have information that is not known to others because others aren’t willing to share it. Others view it with hostility.

I call them the brotherhoods because that’s what Santillana and Newton call them. We belong to such a society. It’s not just that you are members of the Church, but being Mormons is something different. That’s it. There’s something that people can’t grasp there and can’t come to terms with. We do our darndest to come to terms with the world. We do everything we can to be worldly. Nothing could be more worldly than a ZCMI catalog or something like that. That’s not just worldly—that’s Babylonian.

There have always been these brotherhoods. You’ll find them within tribes and everywhere else. We talked about the Rechabites, the people that left. They were a special group. In Lehi’s time they were the only people that were trusted to serve in the temple. During a time of troubles only they stood up for Israel. They went out in the desert when the city was so corrupt, lived by themselves, and waited for more light and truth in a family organization. That’s exactly what the people do in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I have written two rather long articles. One is called “The Companions of the Cave” and was in the Revue de Qumran.1 It shows that there were such societies in the desert long before and long after the Dead Sea Scrolls people. The other one is called “The Gospel of the Forty Days.” That was in the Dutch publication called the Vigiliae Christianae.2 When the Lord returned after the forty days, it tells us at the end of the Gospel of Mark he came together with [the apostles]. They hadn’t believed in the resurrection. Beginning with Moses and the prophets he went through all the scriptures and explained all things to them. Then their eyes were opened. But we are not given a word of the sermon he taught them. In the Book of Mormon it tells us the very same thing. He asked for the scriptures to be brought. Beginning with Moses he went through everything and made sure it was all there and filled in the blanks. He pulled out the book of Malachi which had been written since they had left Jerusalem. He brought them up to date and turned the scriptures over to them. These were people who had that knowledge that the Lord taught after the resurrection.

For the last fifty years they have been finding [documents]. The Coptic library in Egypt, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other collections have been found. But a Christian document is almost bound to begin, “This is the secret teaching the Lord gave to the apostles after the resurrection.” The people that [claimed to have] that secret teaching, kept it to themselves and kept themselves in closed societies. They were the people that claimed that secret knowledge. They claimed it, but they didn’t have it. There’s a marvelous passage about that. The earliest church historian, Hegesipus, is quoted in Eusebius as saying as long as there was a living apostle these people couldn’t emerge, but as soon as the last witness was dead, they crawled out of the woodwork. Everywhere everybody was claiming he had the secret knowledge that Christ gave the apostles and he was to be the head. He knew the knowledge, and that knowledge was called the gnosis, like our word know. The Gnostics come under the brotherhoods. There were many of them. They are the people that know, that had the knowledge. They claimed to have it. Which one of them did have it? Well, Epiphanius listed some eighty-eight different sects, each of them claiming to have it. We have the writings of many of them. The Coptic Scrolls of the Chenoboskion Library [Nag Hammadi]are full of it. We have the whole library here and about five percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But this is a large library, and it’s the same thing. They formed these brotherhoods that were very secret. They had prophecy. Sometimes they went extreme. They would go around always dressed in white. They had strict rules of diet. Some of them had strict rules of chastity. They followed the usual mystic societies. You can think of a lot of those. They go back to the earliest times. The phylai of Egyptian priests right in the beginning followed this pattern. They shaved their heads, bathed frequently, and wore their white robes. They had their secret language in communicating among themselves in their cosmic teachings. Their teachings were only known to themselves. That’s why we have never been able to read the hieroglyphs since. Today they are just beginning to find out that that’s it. Hieroglyphs were meant for such people as that. They don’t say all that we think they say, especially some of the stories that we thought were little folk tales, etc. But you have this sort of thing.

There is a very interesting and complete writing by an Egyptian priest called Petosiris, who you think just might be quoting the Bible all the way through. In fact, he is quoting the Bible. Then you have the Seven Wise Men that go back to the beginning, the wisest men in the world. They traveled around from place to place taking wisdom and receiving wisdom. They went through the world, always wandering, viewing God and his works, and bringing solace, comfort and healing to the human race. They again went with nothing but a staff and a robe. Jesus is confused [with them]. The statue of Peter in St. Peter’s is a statue of a pretended Sophist. They were common just after the time of Christ. They went around bringing healing to the human race. Sometimes once a year and sometimes once in seven years, they would come together to compare notes and share their secret signs and symbols and all that sort of thing. And we have the Hermetic societies and the Orphic mysteries. The best known of all these is the Pythagorean society. They gave us the Pythagorean theorem and a lot of other wisdom. Pythagoras was a great thinker at the time of Lehi. They formed their communities in southern Italy and were persecuted out of existence. These people always excite suspicion and fear wherever they go, because they keep to themselves, have these unusual powers, and view the heavens. To Pythagoras we owe a great deal of knowledge. Then Plato followed his pattern with the lyceum. We mentioned the Cathari. They come down to the Middle Ages.

We are talking about the Book of Mormon now. Lehi had such a community. They were out in the desert by themselves. When they settled in the new country before they were here long, Nephi and his people had to break away again because the others had become corrupt. Notice, there was this constant friction. Here we have two different types of civilization and two different attitudes. Laman and Lemuel weren’t just cool to Lehi; they hated his guts. They planned to kill their father. He led them out away from [civilization]. All these years we might have been living in Jerusalem enjoying things [they said]. That takes us to the second type of civilization we have in the Book of Mormon. But Mosiah led his people out, and then Ammon did. Alma especially led them out by the Waters of Mormon. You’d think there was another Qumran there. There they were baptized and took their vows. They lived in a very happy surrounding and farmed, as they should. It was an idealistic community, but the gospel was their whole life. These people are the brotherhoods; they call each other brothers and sisters. Later on in the eighteenth century there were utopian societies everywhere. Beginning way back in 1600 we have the four great utopias.

[Answer to question about the Deseret alphabet:] The great Eduard Meyer, who was the greatest authority on ancient history perhaps who ever lived, was fascinated by Joseph Smith. But it was Brigham Young who was responsible for the Deseret alphabet. Meyer thought the Deseret alphabet was the greatest production of the nineteenth century—not just of the Mormon church. He said that was a mark of pure genius and inspiration. Of course, we didn’t use it. It was simple and practical. It set them apart from the world. It was the last step to have this Deseret alphabet. It’s an important thing. A little while ago you could get Deseret alphabet books in any book store in Salt Lake City. You can’t anymore; they’ve all been snapped up. I used to have quite a lot of them. I’d give them away for presents. I don’t have any more. They are worth something now, collector’s items. That’s true, the Deseret alphabet was a thing that distinctly set them apart. Not only were they [the brotherhoods] devout and religious people, “holy men ye know not of,” as the Doctrine and Covenants says, but they were very intellectual. This was Pythagoras. They studied cosmology and the like. The wise men were sprung from them. We have utopian societies which emphasized all these things. In 1616 there was Thomas Campanella’s City of the Sun, and there was Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis. The classic one was Thomas More’s Utopia in 1525. He gave it the name Utopia, and ever since there have been Utopian societies.

In Joseph Smith’s time there were Utopian societies all over the place, resembling the Church very much in some things. In D&C 49 the brethren were sent off on a mission to the Shakers. It said they have many good truths, but in many things they are mistaken. They wanted to live pure from the world. They lived all together, shared a common table, lived in common houses, etc. In a very recent issue, National Geographic has a long spiel on the Shakers. Their membership today is twelve members. There are two men and ten old ladies. That’s what is left of them. Well, they didn’t marry. They had these strict rules of chastity. But that didn’t keep it from growing. There were plenty of people who wished to join it, not only retire to it. They saw no reason why they shouldn’t live that way. It grew very rapidly and became very large. It reached its peak between 1840 and 1845, and then it just dwindled away. Today they have this great property. They have all their establishments and their houses. They are very well known. It tells us in this article that Bill Cosby just paid $80,000 for a chair, just a simple wooden chair, because their handwork was so perfect and so beautiful. They were dedicated to perfection. But their concern with these things was materialistic too. A candelabrum sold for $100,000. Well, that’s how rare those things are. It’s the rarity that gives them their value more than anything, because this is the last that will ever be made. These old people now are the last of the Shakers. When they die there won’t be any more left. There were many societies in Joseph Smith’s day like that. There was the Amana society; they are still hanging on. There were the Owenites, and there were all sorts of idealistic societies.

Spiritualism began with a family in Maine and moved to Rochester, New York. They had all these spirit rappings, table movings, etc. It grew very rapidly, and they sent missionaries to Europe. Daniel Home was sensational in the things he could do. Within twenty years they had ten million members. Then they increased to fourteen million members. Today there aren’t any. Oh, you see a spiritualist scattered here and there. This is the way it goes. But Joseph Smith was different. It didn’t go that way at all. It was not a fad. People have this idea of an idealistic society, but it will only work within the gospel. So the work went on.

Within so-called primitive societies you always find fratries and clans. The Egyptian phylais or priests had always lived this holy way. In the fourth century St. Anthony, a rich young man in Alexandria, which was a completely Christian city, saw that the people were living very wickedly. They were not living the way the gospel said they should live, so he went out and became the founder of monasticism, as you all know. St. Anthony went out in the desert and settled there. This spread to Cluny in [France] in the sixth century. Then it went up to England and flourished in the sixteenth century. They became the very rich Cistercians. Then there were the mendicant orders like the Franciscans, the Dominicans, etc. These monastic orders are all brotherhoods. They call each other “brother.” They wear long robes and eat at common refectories, common tables. They practice chastity and go around doing good. They spend their time copying books and engaging mostly in prayer. Some of them are very intellectual. The Jesuits are the classic example of that.

The great monastic systems we think of are the Buddhists. Buddha was a contemporary of Lehi. He started that going. In China, Tibet, and Japan you find Buddhist monasteries with monks in their long robes. Some are Lamaists. They compromised with the Buddhists, so you have the Buddhists and the Lamaists. More Buddhists than anything else live in these monasteries. In Europe or anywhere else they ring their bells and have their dinners. They spend their time reading their books and copy their scriptures. They cultivate their gardens, because they are agricultural people. They support themselves, either by that or by begging. They go throughout the world. We find the monastic orders everywhere, including the Christian monastic orders.

[Answer to question about the Law of Consecration:] Yes, this is supposed to be the Law of Consecration. They consecrate everything they have. They take the three laws of chastity, poverty, and obedience. You are not your own master. We take the vows of obedience, chastity, and consecration, which they call the law of poverty. You don’t have any more property than you need. You have enough to live on and that’s it. They have consecration too. They consecrate everything. Their time, their lives, and everything else are consecrated to the building up of the kingdom. These are very close parallels you might say. We find these in the cases of Lehi, Nephi, Mosiah, and Ammon. In Alma’s case it is described as such.

Let’s get to the second type of society then. That is what is always called “the world.” We know what that is. (I should have brought along my New Testament). Incidentally, the expression “in the world but not of the world” is not found in the Bible at all. We try to justify ourselves. “We’re being in the world but not of the world.” Oh, no. In the epistle of John he tells us you cannot be in the world without being of the world. Come out of the world. We like to have both today. As Brigham Young said, there is nothing in the world more painful and hard—that will tear you apart like trying to have it both ways at once. In John 14–17, where the Lord is praying in the garden, he says, I pray not for the world but those who have come out of the world. He prays for the apostles and names them. They are all brothers. He prays that they may be one, as he is with the Father. For three chapters he goes on and on in the book of John in which they are all together. This is atonement; this is at-one-ment. But not of the world. [The Savior said] I have called them out of the world, and the world hateth them because the world has hated me. There is hate between them, you see.

[Answer to question about “being in the world but not of the world.”] Oh, I know, some people think you can do both, but you can’t. Oh, there’s all sorts of rationalization if you want to live in the world. That’s what it is, I assure you. This has bothered lots of brethren; I can tell you that. How are we going to come out of the world? This is when we drop the enrollment and have no trouble in overcrowded rooms. As the Lord says in the epistle of John, you cannot be in the world and not of the world. What is the world? We’ve got to define it. It’s beautifully described in Revelation 18 where it describes all the good things that are for sale, the fast transportation, the chariots, the silks and satins and precious things, and the souls of men. You can buy anything. You can have anything in this world for money. That’s what marks this world. The Lord says to the apostles [in John 14:30]: “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” When Satan tells Adam, “I am the God of this world,” he is right. Satan tells the truth about all sorts of things, just as he says you can have anything in this world for money, because he has fixed it that way. You can go into those things.

You can spend your days straightening nails if you will. I don’t think that’s a profitable or a holy calling at all—straightening nails just to be straightening them. It reminds you of Diogenes rolling his barrel. Everybody was so busy in Athens making money. Diogenes just sat and lived in his barrel. That’s all he needed. He sat in the sun enjoying himself. Wise men, including Alexander the Great, came from all over the world to consult him. He was a great problem solver. In the daytime he would roll his barrel from one end of the street to the other. They would say, “What are you doing?”

He would say, “You have to be busy in this town, so I’m rolling my barrel.” That’s like the story of a person who spent hours just straightening nails. You can’t use them again after you straighten them, but he was told to straighten nails all day because that was a good activity. It was an activity with no point. Is life so long that we can afford that sort of nonsense? Well, we won’t go into that.

How is it [the world] defined here? It’s given a name. The Bible refers to it specifically by certain types or codes. What is the type of the world? It is Babylon or Rome. D&C 1:16: “. . . whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” Of course, what John is talking about is the Roman Empire. What are the characteristics of this civilization? It’s cosmopolitan, rich, proud, powerful, imperial, acquisitive, success oriented, competitive, materialistic. It’s also licentious, cruel (necessarily), ultra-respectable, sensual. It seeks the four things that both Nephis tell us about. (Maybe I have an interesting thing here. I cling to the Wall Street Journal, so no one can accuse me of being unorthodox. This was a good one from the Wall Street Journal. I didn’t bring it this time. How sad! I left it home; I’ll bring it next time.) It says those four things are power, gain, popularity, and the lusts of the flesh. That covers everything. That covers all we talk about on TV and all we are after.

But how is it characterized in the Book of Mormon? Notice, there’s a contrast, a conflict, between these two [the gospel and the world]. How can you reconcile it? There is a great gulf between them. What is the Book of Mormon talking about there? What is the world in the Book of Mormon? The great and spacious building. Lehi and his people were on the other side, and there was a great gulf between them. You do not mix between them. There wasn’t a common ground between them where they held a marketplace and went out and met on the maidan—set up their tents and swapped back and forth. Though all these are interlaced. It’s true we are in the world, and it’s true there are good things at all these levels to be had. But like the four elements, it’s a case of balance, isn’t it? In the Book of Mormon this is very conspicuous. There is no more striking image anywhere in literature than that of the great and spacious building, which is doomed to fall. The people are finely dressed. They are clever, and they having a gay party. The place is brightly illuminated. They see the people down in the garden as the poor, bedraggled, food-gathering bums back there. They point their fingers at them and laugh at them—anybody who would go out for that sort of existence. They can’t stand it. The great and spacious building was the world. It fell, and great was the fall [1 Nephi 11:36]. Like Rome and Babylon it is doomed to destruction. As I said the word destruction occurs over 400 times in the Book of Mormon. Destruction is the theme; this is such a downbeat, such a negative approach. But it’s for our benefit. We are getting closer.

Question: In Nephi’s dream does the iron rod span the gulf? Answer: No, it doesn’t. The iron rod leads to salvation. It doesn’t span the gulf. There’s a stream of filthy water going along by the side of it. You let go of the rod and you are into the stream. They wanted to get to the other side, but you can’t. The iron rod doesn’t lead to the great and spacious building where we want it to lead. [There’s an interesting story from the days of Solomon’s temple.] The temple rock has been changed a lot. It has been shaved down. It used to be a very steep, high hill. In bad weather it was hard to get up to. There was the sacred way that went up to it. It was like the way up to Adam’s Rock in Ceylon. There was a railing. We are told that it used to be made of iron, but it rotted away with age and was replaced by a wooden railing or a substitute. For old and the sick people to get up to the temple, they used to have a rod. If it was raining to get up the slippery rock, you had to cling to an iron rod. That may be where the idea came from. If you clung to the iron rod, it would get you to the temple. But in time, being iron, it rusted away. That’s one approach.

[The world] is the great and abominable church, which, we are told, is whoever fights against Israel. It’s not just one church. It’s a composite, we are told in 1 Nephi 22, like the seed of Abraham itself. In [2 Nephi 9:39] it makes a very sharp distinction between the cultures. This is one of the most resounding statements in the Book of Mormon. I think it’s the most powerful. If you knew just one thing from the Book of Mormon, this would be the most powerful statement. “. . . Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” Carnal isn’t just sex. Carnal is everything advertised on TV. It’s all carnal—cleansing products, hairdos, body building, clothes, cars. All that’s carnal, because that’s for external appearance. That’s all concerned with temporal things—shampoos, foods, curatives, investments, money lines. All those things are junk. Those are the carnal things of the world. If you put your mind on them, what’s going to happen? They are all going to pass away. They are all rapidly decaying right now. They are going to collapse, and they don’t do it slowly. Remember, we’re living in an age of extermination, a remarkable time. There have been long times when things have kept on a fairly dead level, and then suddenly there have been these periods of extermination. They hit rapidly. They pile up rapidly because of the cumulative effect. One thing leads to another, like when a ship reaches a certain critical place. Then it sinks faster. It’s the same thing here. “To be carnally minded is death.” You are doomed; you are not going anywhere if you put your mind on these things. Well, what else if there’s nothing else in the other world? Remember that’s what Korihor taught: Every man fares in this world “according to the management of the creature.” (There’s the word management used in the Book of Mormon.) Every man prospers according to his ability, conquers according to his strength, and whatsoever a man does is no sin. Why? Because when the man is dead that is the end thereof. Therefore they lifted up their heads and rejoiced because they could do anything they wanted, and went out to get as rich as they could as fast as they could. This is what he was teaching.

So this is the world we are talking about, and it has a very, very conspicuous place in the Book of Mormon, as you know—this other culture. They are constantly being brought into conflict. Then we have another culture that you may overlook. You notice we oversimplify the Book of Mormon. We say it is the story of the Nephites and Lamanites, the good people and the bad people, the white people and the dark people. It wasn’t that way at all, as you know. More than half the time the Lamanites were better than the Nephites. In this chapter it tells us that they divided up into separate tribes. The Lamanites were one group, and the Lemuelites were quite another group, and the Nephites. There were seven tribes. They always kept it that way.

Now we have the third group. What shall we call these? There are various ways of designating them. They are nomadic or semi-nomadic. They are the people of the steppes. They are the warlords, and you get them in the Book of Mormon. Not just the Gadiantons, but you get all sorts of warlords that organize themselves. Of course, the whole book of Ether is taken up with them. So we will call these the warlords. You notice our friend Amalickiah tries to be a warlord. He can’t get enough following. But in this chapter he goes over and makes himself one, the master of the whole thing. He’s a warlord.

Incidentally, on this thing about the world and what the world is, I’ve written many articles on that. A long one that had quite a run among people was on the Persian and Roman empires in the fourth century. It was called “The Problem of Loyalty.”3 They couldn’t get anybody to be loyal to this kind of society because everybody was out for himself. Then the one of the passing of the church is on that.4 It describes the world of the fourth century. I’ve written a number of other things, like “The Hierocentric State.”5 And I had an article in [1966] in the Western Political Quarterly called “Tenting, Toll, and Taxing.”6 These are the warlords of Asia. They are very basic in world history. They are a very sharply marked culture. This is the basis of what is called geopolitics, which was conceived by a Scotchman Halford Mackinder, but it became the favorite doctrine of Hitler’s geographer, Haushofer. They called it geopolitics. It’s the plan on which Hitler intended to conquer the world. He was going to use this. It is that there are the heartland people, these warlords. All the civilizations are peripheral. Here is what they call the heartland. It is shaped like a shield. It’s the area that’s covered with snow in winter. That’s the great Asiatic heartland, the people of the steppes. They are wanderers. They have always lived with a very shaky, marginal economy. If the grass is bad, or if there are bad years, then they have to move. They move on the outside peoples and go to plunder. On the outside here you have the civilizations of the Near East, India, and the Orient. These people all built great walls against them. The limes ran clear across Europe for the Romans to keep them out. Then there was the white wall of the Asiatics to keep them out of Egypt especially. At all times there was pressure on that. In Babylon the pass was very important; they were river people. Here you have the passes, the Khyber Pass, etc. Then the Chinese went to the trouble of building a wall fifteen hundred miles long just to keep them out, these wild people of the steppes. These people of the heartland are nomads and raiders. They are semi-nomadic and have a very solid culture. They’re patriarchal.

This goes back right to the beginning with the story of the Cainites and the Sethians. We are told that Cain became a wanderer in the earth. He went to the land of Nod. Our word nod means “going back and forth.” Cain was banished to the land of perpetual wandering. He became a wanderer because of the wickedness. He conspired to kill his brother and get rich. He wanted the priesthood and all that. The Lord came and talked with him and told him he was doing what was wrong. We get all this in the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. He refused to listen to the Lord anymore. He stomped on his heel and walked out on him, because Cain, his wife, and [most of] the people loved Satan more than God in the time of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve could do nothing but mourn before the Lord. They followed Satan, took instruction from him, and got the degree of Master Mahan. The secret of this is how to get rich by taking life, how to convert life into property. When he got it he said, “Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain [Moses 5:31].” So by a conspiracy we are told in the [Pearl of Great Price] he murdered his brother Abel. He planned it all out, because Satan told him how to do it. Having done that, he said now I am free. I got the money I want. Wealth makes you free, as Mr. Forbes tells us. Cain said, “I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands.” So he had them. For that he became cursed. He could no longer cultivate the earth. The earth refused her strength to him, and he became a wanderer on the face of the earth. He became a nomad and a raider.

His descendants are Cush and Nimrod, the great hunters and conquerors, the founders of the first empires—the first cities, strangely enough. They were Asiatic. They became looters (this is geopolitics) and have passion for portable wealth that you can carry with you. It has to be gold, silver, and stuff like that if you are on the move. They have this great lust for jewels. The jewel giver is the chief. That’s how Beowulf starts out. Hrothgar was a good king because he gave out rings. So we have the great lords of the steppes. The book of Ether, which we have left to study, is the classic treatment of this subject. That’s what that is, so we don’t need to go into it here. They were traders and dealers, being always on the move. The classic characters are raiders, robbers, the Gadiantons, Shiz, and Coriantumr.

Now we get this would-be raider Amalickiah. They love splendor and display. Life is a chess game where you are always moving around trying to check the king. That’s the game you find in the book of Ether. The king can’t be taken, but when he’s taken, all his people go over to your side. That’s exactly how the Jaredites do it again and again in the book of Ether. They are managers and administrators; they work at a distance. They are patriarchal and tribal. Akish, Jared, and his daughter are classic examples [Ether 8]. It goes back to very ancient times. “Hath not [my lord] read the record which our fathers brought across the great deep? Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?” [Ether 8:9]. This is how they went about it. These people are very real. These raiders are at the very center of things. Just look at your National Geographic magazines; you’ll find out about them. They like the visible wealth and the display. Cattle raiders, tent people, people of the steppes, gamesters. You’ll notice there’s something noble about them too. They are chivalric, patriarchal, and adventurous. They have contempt for the people of the periphery that live in the great cities of Babylon, Mohenjo-Daro, Cairo, and places like that. (It wasn’t Cairo in those days, but Memphis.) The city people had their lush, sensuous, and licentious practices.

Of course, these other people, culture number one, are sort of out of the picture with them. Then we come to one that is rather closely related, the fourth type here. We would call them “the nature people.” We used to call them “primitives.” Then they called them “preliterates.” The poor anthropologists have had an awfully hard time finding some real primitives to study. That’s what they are supposed to study, and there aren’t any primitives. The primitives are just what’s left over from other civilizations. People have gone back to it again. You can’t find people that you can definitely prove are primitive, or preliterate, or anything like that. You can call them “nature people” because they live according to nature. As Nephi puts it, “We lived after the manner of happiness.” There are these people in the Book of Mormon that aren’t like any of the others, you’ll notice. They live by themselves and have their own ways. They were once called primitives or preliterates. They are the survivors. They are the peasant cultures throughout the world. They are the aborigines. They tell us now—if you have been seeing any documentaries on Australia—that they have been living with their life unchanged for 40,000 years. Now with this generation it all ends. It’s interesting that everything comes to an end in this generation. After 40,000 years it’s cut off like that.

They are our Southwest Indians. They have been living like that. We have Sister Theresa Harvey’s house at Hualapai, the first that was ever dated by carbon dating. It was found to be 800 years old. They have been living in that doing the same things. She revived the pottery business, the old pottery that was used over a thousand years ago. There’s a big dump of it right behind her house there. They have been doing absolutely the same things for a thousand years. Now that is stability. But they are living on nothing. There’s nothing but sand around them. They live on these mesas where they call themselves the Hopi, the peaceful people. They don’t make war. Yet it is the most exciting, most fun place you can imagine. I used to go down there every time I could get a week off, or a weekend even. I’d tear down there and celebrate with the Hopis, because every weekend they have a grand party. They have fun; it’s great.

We read now also about the jungle people who are being driven out by the lumber and cattle companies. The people have been there for thousands of years leading quite satisfactory, full lives. With the Eskimos it’s the same thing. It isn’t that they live in unspeakable boredom in which everything is always the same. Not at all. Their world is imaginative and colorful, not dull or boring. They are very hard working. [The Hopis] have to be to survive on the sand out there. Their stability is marvelous. Of course, they are agricultural. They are the peasantry of the world.

I was on a mission in Germany, and there’s a place called Mickelsburg where they made the first excavations and found the first pottery. That’s very early Neolithic pottery at Mickelsburg. It was all farming around there in those days. It still is the same way. Across the river on the other side, they excavated some villages. They took the pottery, scraped the inside of the pots, and found out what the people ate. There was soup in there, a mixture of grains, bark, berries, and things like that. It was the very same mixture the people use today. They have never changed that recipe. Imagine! That must be at least 10,000 years. We don’t want to get into the calendar and things like that, but it’s an interesting subject. Naturally, living as they are they are the most visionary and spiritual of people, highly imaginative and very artistic. All these Southwest Indians have their arts of weaving and pottery. When they put on their dances, they are magnificent. Everything has to be properly done. There can be nothing old, nothing dirty, nothing “boughten.” It all has to be fresh and all has to be from the earth. It’s quite a marvelous thing.

We are forcing them to change now. I hope we aren’t as badly as I heard last. Notice, there is a tremendous hostility between us and them. I may read you some court records and things that have come out if I can find them. How we hate them! Actually, the Peabody Corporation is trying to get rid of them altogether. They tried very strongly a few years ago when I was there, to get them all to move. They offered them trailer houses, and they could all go live in Los Angeles. Then they could just strip mine the whole area; that’s what they wanted. When [the Hopis] opposed it, they brought down the wrath of the Bureau of Indian Affairs on them. They are very interesting people. They differ from number one [culture], but they are brotherhoods too. They are always divided into clans. You have the bear clan, the snake clan, etc. The clans are secret. They meet in their kivas and have their secret meetings and initiations. They have their special costumes, special marks, special diets, etc. When the Nephites taught them to read, we are told in Mosiah 24:4–7, they were very smart. They learned to read and became businessmen, which was instant corruption. It changed them completely. The people of Ammon are such a type in the Book of Mormon. They are completely satisfied with themselves.

1. Reprinted as “Qumran and the Companions of the Cave: The Haunted Wilderness,” in Old Testament and Related Studies, vol. 1 in The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1986), 253–84.

2. Reprinted in Mormonism and Early Christianity, vol. 4 in CWHN, 10–44.

3. Reprinted as “The Unsolved Loyalty Problem: Our Western Heritage,” in The Ancient State, vol. 10 in CWHN, 195–242.

4. Reprinted as “The Passing of the Primitive Church,” in Mormonism and Early Christianity, 168–208.

5. Reprinted in The Ancient State, 99–147.

6. Reprinted in ibid., 33–98.