Reprints and Preliminary Reports
Where did Jesus go after His Resurrection?
Does the Book of Mormon stand alone when it says that Jesus taught important gospel messages after his resurrection? “No,” answers Hugh Nibley, as he surveys the “40 day literature” in his 1966 article entitled Evangelium Quadraginta Dierum. Although modern biblical scholars tend to discount the early Christian accounts of the post-resurrection ministry of the Savior, Nibley argues for a literal, historical interpretation. From this, an interesting perspective on 3 Nephi can emerge.
Finding the Fragments
It is a well known fact of Church History that the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon was deposited in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House in the 1840s. There much of it decayed from moisture and exposure. Some years later, the cornerstone was opened, and Major Bidamon and Emma Smith gave fragments of the manuscript to friends and relatives who visited them at their house in nauvoo. Part of the F.A.R.M.S. Book of Mormon Critical Text project has involved an analysis of all known surviving fragments of this original manuscript. The Original Manuscript Register lists each one of these surviving pieces, their current location, and the chapters and verses which they cover.
Order Out of Chronology?
We have long known that the Book of Ether, like most of its counterparts from antiquity, is a lineage record rather than a history in the modern sense. Nevertheless, it is possible to reconstruct a rough chronology from that text that permits some tentative comparisons with dated events known from the Old and New Worlds. In his “The Years of the Jaredites,” John L. Sorenson proposes a chronology that helps place Ether’s writings in a clearer historical context.
B. H. Roberts Speaks for Himself
B. H. Roberts was an inquisitive man, and the penetrating study of the Book of Mormon was one of his lifetime works. His rigorous questioning and probing, however, has led some critics to doubt Roberts’ personal belief in the historicity of that scripture, especially after 1923. One way to find out what Roberts believed is to let him speak for himself. To do this, F.A.R.M.S. offers an extensive collection of statements made by Roberts from 1923 to 1933 about the Book of Mormon and compiled by Truman Madsen. Consider, for example, Roberts’ words in 1928: “Now tell me in what church or cathedral in the world, in what sacred grove, in what place among the habitations of men, will be found a more glorious Easter vision of the Christ than this? And the world would have lost this if it had not been for the Book of Mormon coming forth; andd there are a hundred more rich glorious things that have come to the world in that book to enlighten the children of men, all of which would have been lost had not this American volume of scripture been brought forth.”
John L. Sorenson Digs into the Book of Mormon
LDS discussions of the Book of Mormon in its New World context have typically been flawed on two counts. The authors generally have not paid enough attention to the nuances of the text itself, nor have they been sufficiently critical in their handling of New World sources and data.
John Sorenson gives us two articles that offer us a refreshing new look at these subjects. This author is well equipped to discuss both the text and its Mesoamerican setting. His intelligent treatment highlights a number of satisfying points of convergence between a careful appraisal of the text and the most recent conclusions of the Mesoamericanists. “Digging into the Book of Mormon” offers a brief introduction into the materials that Dr. Sorenson treats more extensively in his forthcoming book.
How long did King Mosiah live?
Fortunately, we know enough about the lineages of Lehi, Mosiah and Alma to calculate fairly accurately how long people like Nephi, Benjamin or Helaman must have lived. In his paper on the Longevity of Book of Mormon Peoples, Jack Welch presents this information with some interesting results. For example, it turns out that Nephi, the son of Helaman, must have been very young when he became Chief Judge in 39 B.C., thus accounting in part for his inability to cope with the pressures of the Gadianton robbers. The ages of many other figures can also be approximated at important times in Nephite history. Ideal ages for taking charge of records (age 24), for assuming political responsibility (age 30), for retiring from public service (age 50), and for a complete life (age 72) also seem to emerge. By comparison, the ancient Greeks and Hebrews also had ideal ages for the stages of a man’s life.
There Were Jaredites
Also offered on the order form accompanying this newsletter is the 1956-57 series by Hugh Nibley entitled There Were Jaredites. In a humorous dialogue, Nibley describes the epic milieu which existed 2000 B.C. in Egypt and Babylonia, the world from which the Jaredites came. This makes fascinating reading as background to the Book of Ether.
Were Lehi and Nephi Blacksmiths?
Years ago, Hugh Nibley concluded that Lehi was a caravaneer or traveling merchant. John Tvedtnes, however, now offers an alternative view. “I believe that there is evidence to show that Lehi and his family were craftsmen and artisans—probably metalworkers,” Tvedtnes concludes in his paper Was Lehi a Caravaneer? This intriguing paper points to several facts to buttress this claim. For example, Nephi appreciated the fine craftsmanship of the sword of Laban; he was skilled in making tools (the Lord told Nephi how to make the ship, but it seems that Nephi needed no instruction on how to make the tools); he taught his people how to work with metals (2 Ne. 5:14); and his brothers appear to discount the Liahona believing that Nephi had made it (1 Ne. 16:38). These, and many other interesting details, make a plausible case that Lehi and Nephi were blacksmiths.