In 3 Nephi 16:1-3, Jesus proclaims:
And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister. For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them. But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.
Is there any passage of scripture that has led to more bizarre speculations than this? Who are those “other sheep”? And should we care?
With regard to the bizarre speculations, think hollow earth. (See also here.) This sort of wackiness is inspired by a real quandry, namely, the promise of another civilization that has seen the resurrected Jesus and presumably kept a record of his visit.
About that record … assuming the “other sheep” made a record of Jesus’ visit, I presume the record is lost, just as the Book of Mormon was lost to the ancient peoples on the American continents. That is, other than the hollow earth gang, I assume that none of us is searching for an insular group of people who are living by an ancient record unknown to the world at large.
Now, about those “other sheep” … they are identified as the “lost tribes of Israel,” (3 Nephi 17:4) and many have imagined these people as a cohesive group, sort of like the Jews of Ethiopia. The search for such a group in an ever-shrinking world has led to desperate theories like the hollow earth, but other theories still abound. Some people remain intrigued by references to people in the “regions of ice” above continental Europe (Lapland?), but nowadays the fashionable location seems to be Mongolia. (The missionaries in our mission tell of patriarchal blessings in Mongolia in which people are being identified with one or another lost tribe.)
Of course, the existence of members of the lost tribes in Mongolia or Russia does not necessarily mean that they are a cohesive society. But if they are just scattered remnants, I wonder why the Lord would make them such a prominent part of the latter-day scene. If it weren’t for the Tenth Article of Faith and supporting scriptures, I would be happy to abandon all thought of the lost tribes, but those sources force me to ponder this topic from time to time, and I confess that the topic makes me uncomfortable. What is the importance of bloodlines in sharing and receiving the Gospel? The part of my patriarchal blessing that identifies my tribe has always seemed odd to me, and I have never been sure why I should care. If we are all “one fold,” why draw such lines? My impression is that tribe-talk has been much reduced in the modern Church, though that may be wishful thinking on my part.