Plain and Precious Truths

August 2, 2005 | 45 comments
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Nephi teaches that many plain and precious truths that were once had among the Jews have not made it into the Bible handed down to us via the Gentiles. We tend to talk as though these are truths revealed by Christ, but not passed on as his church fell into apostasy. But could many of these be truths lost before the time of Christ, or revealed before Christ but lost shortly after he left the Earth?

Nephi’s vision refers repeatedly to “the book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew” and says that “when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained a fulness of the gospel of the Lord” (1 Nephi 13:24). The vision prominently features the coming of the Lamb of God and the ministry of his disciples, and then talks about the great and abominable church that “take[s] away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious” (1 Nephi 13:26). The description of the vision naturally leads to the impression that the loss of truths happened after the coming of Christ, and that the truths lost were truths he revealed (it is after all the book of the Lamb of God).

Yet, the angel also says, “The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prohecies of the holy prophets . . .” (1 Nephi 13:23). This would be material revealed to the Jews long before Christ. Could it be that many of the truths that were lost are truths that were had among the Jews before the time of Christ? Like the patriarchal practice of sacrifice, which did not require a temple, and which Lehi practiced in the desert, but which appears to have been frowned upon by later Jewish orthodoxy? Or, well, the message of Christ preached by Abraham and Moses, to which Christ referred in his condemnations of the Jewish establishment? And then there is the stuff about God’s wife.

Christ clearly regards the Jews of his time as not merely lacking the higher law, but as having apostasized from the truths Moses gave them. Could it be that the Jewish apostasy is responsible for the loss of truth from the (precursors to the) Bible to a similar degree as the Christian apostasy?

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45 Responses to Plain and Precious Truths

  1. Jack on August 2, 2005 at 9:12 pm

    Fun subject, Ben.

    1Ne 13: 25 makes clear (to me) that the record goes forth “in purity” by the hand of the apostles to the Jews and utlimately to the Gentiles. This seems to indicate (to me at least) that the loss of plain and precious parts occured during/after the days of the early apostles.

    –Not say that there haven’t been other ocassions when the scriptures have been messed with. I think you make a good point– i.e., that other eras of apostasy may have done similar damage to the scriptures as the one that Nephi seems to speak of in a more specific way.

  2. Ben H on August 2, 2005 at 9:27 pm

    Okay, Jack, the whole thing seems a bit poetic and stylized, so I don’t want to assume that the processes symbolically represented in the vision is quite as simple as the symbols. The book, for example, didn’t yet exist as a single book at the time of the apostles. Nor did it proceed from the mouth of any single Jew. And “there are save two churches only” ( 1 Nephi 14:10) seems a bit stark. But supposing that chronologically speaking, everything referred to in the prophecy happened after Christ’s ascension, there is still the other branch of my question: couldn’t it still be that much of what was lost dated from before the time of Christ?

  3. Jack on August 2, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    “…couldn’t it still be that much of what was lost dated from before the time of Christ?”

    Surely this must be possible as there have been repeated instances of apostasy throughout history–though I’m not sure how to reconcile it with verse 25 as it seems to be quite specific in terms of chronology inspite of the poetic nature of the chapter.

  4. danithew on August 2, 2005 at 10:04 pm

    I have wondered if comments about the process of recordkeeping and the chain of transmission were eliminated from the Bible by overzealous editors. Transitions, editorial commentary and the descriptions of the record being handed down from one prophet to another — that is something we see a lot of in the Book of Mormon — but it seems to be utterly lacking from the Hebrew Bible. Perhaps this even had something to do with the loss of Laban’s brass plates. It seems to me that Laban’s records were pretty special — not the sort of thing that gets replicated all over the place. What if it was the only engraved edition?

    So I try to imagine — one day all of a sudden the original engravings are just gone … disappeared … and the keeper of the record is lacking his head. A total humiliation. How would you explain that to people reading the descriptions of plates being passed down from one prophet to another? People would ask where the brass plates were. No one is going to want to say they allowed them out of their hands. I could just imagine that any comment in the Biblical record about plates and engravings being eliminated because of the shame and embarassment. Better not to even mention it.

    This is all speculation on my part. It could be completely fruity.

  5. Ben H on August 2, 2005 at 10:17 pm

    I’m kind of with you, danithew! I doubt the Nephites were the only ones who thought so highly of the brass plates. I’ve often wondered if we would have more of the writings of Zenos and Zenock, for example, if Nephi hadn’t taken them off to the New World! From our standpoint we gain the Book of Mormon, possibly at the cost of some of the writings that would otherwise have been passed down. There were surely some other manuscripts around, but with the durable copy gone, they might have been much more vulnerable. Of course, just a few years later Jerusalem was destroyed, when the plates might well have been destroyed anyway if Nephi hadn’t carried them off. You’re totally right about the commentary on transmission. But any amount of that, much of which might have remained verbal at any given time, could easily have been lost or disrupted by events like being carried off into slavery. There was kind of a record-keeping singularity there.

    Funny how the imagery of the great and abominable church that fought against the message of the apostles of the Lamb is the same as the imagery of Babylon . . . is there more of a parallel role here than we’ve acknowledged?

  6. Ben H on August 2, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    Of course, if Moroni ever would show us that other Hill Cumorah . . .

  7. Clark on August 2, 2005 at 10:36 pm

    I’ve often read it as more relating to temple worship and what went on in the temple. The temple even as a concept among the Jews was rather thrashed by the time the Romans destroyed it. By the time of the second destruction and the change of Jerusalem to a Roman city little was left. Yet, from a Mormon perspective, we find traces in texts like The Gospel of Philip and Jeu. I’d note that Nephi emphasizes covenants and from an LDS perspective that means the priesthood and the rites thereof.

  8. Ben H on August 3, 2005 at 12:44 am

    Cool. So your example fits what I’m suggesting, Clark: temple rites lost, or at least seriously marginalized before the coming of Christ, which didn’t really recover.

  9. Kaimi on August 3, 2005 at 1:07 am

    Interesting.

    Stephen Robinson writes about the plain and precious truths. (See, e.g., How Wide the Divide). His position is that they mostly consist of books not added to the canon that should have been added (Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, for example). His position, which I believe is supported by the documentary evidence, is that there is little evidence of wholesale alteration to scirptural texts by early Christian scribes. There were a few mistakes made, but we now have access to large numbers of early manuscripts from the second and third centuries that are consistent enough to support the idea that the scriptural books we have now are more or less in their correct forms, with a few inadvertent errors here or there but without wholesale doctrinal redactions.

  10. Clark on August 3, 2005 at 1:12 am

    My suspicion Kaimi is that if there were extra texts they were less the epistles of Paul, who holds an ambiguous position. Rather they’d be secret gospels, like the controversial Secret Gospel of Mark, that many apologists have discussed. (And which may be a forgery) However even outside of such matters we have many early fathers talking about secret teachings. The gnostics claimed to have them, thus the apologetic arguments about why such things appear.

    Anyway if there were extra writings I’d expect them to be either collections of sayings of Jesus that we don’t have or extra writings by Peter, James and John.

  11. Jack on August 3, 2005 at 4:08 am

    I thought this paper by John Gee was interesting:

    http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/conf/1999GeeJ.html

    “The Corruption of Scripture in the Second Century”

  12. Costanza on August 3, 2005 at 10:40 am

    A very interesting book published by Oxford University Press by the eminent Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman is called THE ORTHODOX CORRUPTION OF SCRIPTURE. Ehrman’s argument resonates well with LDS concepts in theory (the politicaly/theologically motivated selection of books for canonization and the actual manipulation of texts did occur) but not in application (the changes were often made to make Christ appear more divine, for example). In any case, it makes an interesting read if you are really curious about what non-LDS scholars have to say about the topic.

  13. Visorstuff on August 3, 2005 at 2:33 pm

    Kaimi –

    Not sure I completely agree with you – the earliest mss. we have are from the third centuries – even the text of the Gospel of Mark (considered the oldest) differs significanly from the current version we use (last I counted there are about four versions of that gospel – and none from the first two centuries). Even Muslims teach that the Bible was tampered with by Jews and early Christians. Something had to have happened, but what and if it was deliberate and “wholesale” we don’t know.

    Unfortunately, we don’t know that much about the Biblical texts between King Josiah’s reform by the dueteronimists, and the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Anything could have happened. The reforms under Josiah drastically altered the Jewish tradition, which many believe led to the Babylonian dispersion of Lehi’s time.

    I think Stephen Robinson’s point is that “there is little evidence of wholesale alteration,” but there is little evidence to the contrary as well. We just don’t know. His point is typically in reference to the JST, that Smith was not nessessarily restoring deleted texts as much as he was restoring deleted ideas.

  14. Ben H on August 3, 2005 at 3:24 pm

    Kaimi, I don’t need much in the way of alteration of texts to make my model fly. Most of the work could easily and most credibly be done by selection of texts. Alteration is pretty transparent and very fishy, but if you just call a book heretical that threatens you (e.g. the Book of Mormon?), it looks like the normal functioning of religious authority, only maybe this time it’s false authority.

    Constanza, thanks for that reference; it sounds very interesting. Of course, tweaking the message to make Christ sound more divine fits very well with the usual LDS view of what went wrong in the traditional Christian conception of God: exaggeration of the gap between creator and creature, making God less human and more abstract and impersonal . . .

  15. Jack on August 3, 2005 at 4:00 pm

    Ben,

    I’m curious–and I ask this question sincerely:

    What does this scriptural passage mean to you: “Wherefore these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God”, and how do you reconcile it with the idea of pre-New Testament alterations/deletions?

  16. Clark on August 3, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    Jack, the question is what the antecedant of “these things” is. Is it the covenants or the plates? I think it difficult to argue that some of the extra texts mentioned in the Book of Mormon were had at the time of Christ. That’s not to say there weren’t disputed texts of value, like 1 Enoch. But I doubt texts of Zenos were floating around.

    However I can very well believe that some of the notions Nephi was familiar with regarding covenants were had by the 12 in Palestine and were brought to the gentiles.

    But I don’t think we ought take 1 Nephi as implying that the events from around the time of the exile to the building of the Hebrew scriptures didn’t take place and that at best the older records were only secretly had and communicated to select Gentiles.

  17. Jack on August 3, 2005 at 4:55 pm

    Clark,

    Perhaps my reading of Ch 13 is too narrow, but to me it reads as though the antecedant of “these things” is “the book [which] proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew”. I agree with the notion that older records may have been tampered with. I guess I’m just having a hard time reconciling that notion with what it means to have the record go forth in its purity to the Gentiles. Or am I wrong in supposing that the record of the Jews going forth to the Gentiles must have occured only after the Savior’s death?

  18. Ben H on August 3, 2005 at 5:59 pm

    Hm. Okay, Jack, I am starting to be persuaded that it is difficult to read this prophecy the way I’m trying to. Two passages particularly put the pressure on:

    First, the passage after the one you quote continues:
    “after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church” (1 Nephi 13:26)

    This makes it sound like the purity was there in the primitive church, not just in the person of Christ or in some more overarching sense that would include the collective message of the Hebrew prophets. I don’t think that means what they had was necessarily comprehensive, but it was pure and contained a fulness, and anyway the part of the truth that the prophecy is most concerned with was there in the hands of the apostles. So the “going forth” referred to occurred after the time of Christ.

    Also,
    “These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:40) reinforces the idea that the book that proceeded from the mouth of a Jew represents mainly the New Testament message. Of course, this message may have been informed by pre-meridian texts. So some of the plain and precious truths lost may have been things that were revealed to the Hebrews before the time of Christ, but the loss referred to took place after the time of Christ.

    So I’m reading this prophecy as directly referring to a loss that takes place after the time of Christ, in the Christian apostasy. I don’t see it as excluding that much might also have been lost in an earlier Hebrew apostasy, though. That the message is pure doesn’t seem to me to imply that it is comprehensive, only that it contains the essentials of the gospel (as did the small plates of Nephi all on their own, according to Jarom).

    I still think there was an early apostasy in Israel comparably damaging to what happened among Christians, and I think the Christian tradition has suffered because of it, and we, too, could benefit from some of those texts. But it doesn’t look like Nephi’s prophecy, as recorded, refers to this. From his standpoint, the Jews had already fallen into serious apostasy before he left Jerusalem, so that would have been old news anyway : )

    Clark, can you give us more specific reasons to think Nephi’s prophecy covers apostasy before the time of Christ as well?

  19. alamojag on August 3, 2005 at 6:05 pm

    It doesn’t take long for old traditions to creep in on those “plain and precious truths.” I remember my training companion on my mission talking about the arguments he had with one of the new Korean bishops who wanted very much to put a cross on the steeple of their new chapel. True, that may be Mormon culture more than doctrine, but there were times when a lot of those new members taught some of the old doctrines from their former religious affiliation. I imagine early Christianity could have fallen apart pretty quickly, even among well-meaning members.

  20. Jack on August 3, 2005 at 7:22 pm

    Ben,

    I have another idea bouncing around in my head (along with the rest of the marbles)–sort of a pet theory–as to why I think this must have happened after the establishment of the church. And that is, in chapter thirteen there are at least two references to the great and abominable church as “that which is most abominable above all other churches”. The only other thing that I’m aware of that is refered to as “most abominable above all” is secret combinations as per Ether 8: 18.

    The difference between the passages in 1Ne and Ether are that the first says “above all other churches” while the latter says “above all in the sight of God”. This may indicate that the combinations to which Moroni was referring might be even more abominal the great and abominal church thereby negating the idea that they may be one and the same. However, I find it interesting that the descriptions of the GaAC in ch 13 seem to look an aweful lot like the picture we get of combinations as described elsewhere in the BoM.

    They bring the saints down into captivity, and slay them, and torture them, and yoke them with a yoke of iron, etc. They seek after gold and silver and precious things. They dig a great pit for the destruction of men which they will eventually fill with their own bodies according the justice of God, and so forth. And above all, they corrupt the pure doctrine of Christ in order to gain their purpose–much like those combinations in 4Ne who sell that which is most sacred for money and alter the doctrine in such a way so as to generate a fragmentation of the church.

    Maybe I’m stretching it a bit, but I find the commonalities striking.

  21. Jack on August 3, 2005 at 7:25 pm

    Oh, I forgot the central idea to my little pet thesis. That is, IMO, this kind of wickedness seems to prevail where there is a fall from the fulness of the gospel, which lends creedence to the idea that the disruption of the plain and precious truths most likely occured after the establishment of the early church.

  22. Clark on August 3, 2005 at 7:30 pm

    Quickly. I tend to think the antecedant of “these things” is “the fulness of the gospel of the Lord” which is not the same as “the book.” The fulness in my mind is the context to interpret the scriptures along with the covenants. The key verse, to me, is 1 Nephi 13:40 which you linked to. I don’t see that as the book since verse 40 seems to be the Book of Mormon. At least it can be read that way via verse 35. Now one can argue that it deals with the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon or other things yet revealed.

    The reading where it is some lost text or book implies that the plain and precious things can only be the writings of Zenos or other lost prophets as partially quoted in the Book of Mormon. I simply have a hard time seeing that, even as valuable as Jacob 5 is.

    Ben, the reason I think the prophecy covers earlier apostasy or loss of texts is because the plain and precious things were had but not necessarily had publicly by Jews outside of the early Christians.

    Of course the real intriguing verse in all this is 1 Ne 14:23 which suggests that some text written by the apostle is key to all this. That may explain 1 Ne 13:38 and other verses about the book of the lamb. Or not. I tend to find a lot here very confusing.

    Anyway, the point is I think that Nephi thinks the pre-Christian Jews had plain and precious truths. I think it clear from the texts that were compiled around 200 BC that they were lost by then and probably lost by the time of the exile.

    I do think the Nephi’s vision is couched in echtalogical imagery so we should take the meaning of “book” a bit more expansively rather than assuming it represents a real book or books.

    Getting back to why I think this can apply to pre-Christian apostasy or loss. The text is a record of the Jews akin to the brass plates. (And let’s be honest – we don’t know the nature of the brass plates as compared to the current OT. Probably they were quite different) The “book” is not quite so big. Does that mean in the literalist reading that it is already missing texts ala Zenos? In the symbolic reading does that mean it just doesn’t cover as much stuff?

    My reading is that the fact it talks about the mouth of the Jew rather than writings this needn’t be a real text. Rather it is just the idea that Jews spoke the fulness of the gospel. The apostles had the fulness of the gospel and gave it to the gentiles. This fulness entailed the complete history of the Jews (past, present and future) My inclination is to buy into the figurative reading and see the book more in line with the book in Revelation 5. Further I tend to see the apostle mentioned in 14:23 as John. I think Nephi is largely seeing the same vision as John, but with different things mentioned and recorded. I also think that D&C 93:6 supports this reading. I think that we can’t neglect the emphasis on John in 1 Ne 14 and that all this ties into to many other visions.

    But if this is the same vision as John then the issue is overall covenants to the Jewish people, especially those in 3 Nephi but not in the NT. The book then is an eschatological book relating to the entire history of the chosen people and Nephi’s emphasis is on that.

  23. Jack on August 3, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    Clark,

    I’m open to the idea, but I stumble a bit over the inconsistency of literal brass plates and an eschatological book proceeding from the mouth of a Jew, or the fact that Nephi sees the coming forth of “other books” when the eschotological book ought to represent the fulness of God’s word–not to mention that ch 13 speaks of a book being “carried forth” by the Gentiles (which still may be interpreted symbolically).

  24. Clark on August 3, 2005 at 8:03 pm

    Yeah, I agree Jack. I think there are some inconsistencies in either reading. The problem I have with the literal book reading is reconciling that to both history, to the John parallels, and the idea of a “book of the lamb of God.”

  25. Jack on August 3, 2005 at 8:07 pm

    Hmm. I have to go eat pizza with extended family right now. I’ll be chewing on this long after dinner’s over. It’s been a fun discussion so far.

  26. Lisa B. on August 3, 2005 at 10:49 pm

    Interesting that you point to the doctrine of Heavenly Mother as one possible loss–particularly since She isn’t mentioned in the BOM to my knowledge. However, there is Christ’s injunction in 3rd Nephi to study the words of Isaiah since they cover “all things” pertaining to eternal life–and Isaiah does seem to have a fair share of feminine divine imagery.

  27. Ben H on August 3, 2005 at 11:37 pm

    Well, Lisa, there are those who think the tree imagery in the Book of Mormon might have reference to Heavenly Mother, fitting into a broader Wisdom literature . . . but yes, I definitely have in mind things that are neither in the Book of Mormon nor in the Bible. Some (many?) of them may have been in the brass plates, but of course most of that material doesn’t make it into the Plates of Nephi.

  28. Lisa B. on August 4, 2005 at 12:02 am

    Hmmm…. I wonder who “those” might be.

  29. Ben H on August 4, 2005 at 1:07 am

    I came away from Margaret Barker’s talk in May with the impression she was linking Lehi’s vision with the Wisdom literature, or seeing interesting parallels anyway. You can listen to it at the LOC conference web archives. For all I know lots of people make that connection, oh, maybe Dan Peterson?

  30. Clark on August 4, 2005 at 1:31 am

    I think it parallels both Wisdom literature and Merkabah literature. For instance the geography of Nephi’s vision has a lot in common with the geography of “heaven” in the various Enoch texts. I don’t know if anyone’s written that up formally. I have some parallels I wrote up somewhere way back in the mid 90′s. I don’t know if I could find them anymore though. (grin) I seem to recall studying some of the influence of Babylonian geography on heavenly ascent literature. So some antis might call some of this problematic in terms of time. However the Babylonian-Hebrew connection might be overstated somewhat, as might the time frame.

    With regard to Isaiah, I find Nephi and Jacob’s use of Isaiah with respect to all sorts of covenant relationships with Israel fascinating. They take it to apply to the atonement, to the Lehites, and then the more traditional eschatological readings. Also there is the traditional problem of the dating of 2cd and 3rd Isaiah. The Book of Mormon quotes it even though most scholars date it after the Lehites left. This is often taken as evidence by apologists for the unified nature of Isaiah or the nature of prophecy, although some see problems in that. However in the context of the Book of Mormon and especially 1 Ne 13 – 14 it becomes even more interesting. Especially if one takes the book in question to be the eschatological book of Revelation 5.

  31. Clark on August 4, 2005 at 1:43 am

    Just to add, getting back to Rev 5. Joseph’s comment on this in D&C 77 was that the book, “it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.” Most interestingly John sees the book as sealed, with the seals each repesenting a dispensation. What book do we know of that was sealed?

    An other interesting scripture, possibly relevant – possibly not, is D&C 35:17-18 where once again sealings and the fulness of the gospel are tied together. That’s typically read as just referring to the MP. But note how it talks about “the things which shall come from this time until the time of my coming.” There is that definite eschatological tone to the verses.

    Personally though I take 1 Ne 14:26 as pretty compelling evidence that Nephi is seeing the same vision as partially recorded in the book or revelation and which the verse suggests others have seen and even recorded. Verse 23 can be taken to imply that the book in question includes John’s writings. Is that the Bible, as some might take the literalist reading, or is it just that the book is the ideal form of this vision that many have recorded and that perhaps John originally had in a fulness somewhere. D&C 93:6 can be taken to refer to John the Revelation and the real account of what we have in a fragmentary and distorted form in the Book of Revelation. (I recognize that some take that verse to refer to John the Baptist. But I think it fits the John of 1 Nephi better.)

  32. Clark on August 4, 2005 at 1:44 am
  33. Jack on August 4, 2005 at 3:11 am

    Fascinating stuff, Clark.

    Question:

    How do we reconcile the idea of a book that is “sealed”, and therefore (I assume) safely beyond the reach of those who would alter it, with a book which was altered as it passed through the hands of the abominable church?

    I was almost ready to answer my own question with the idea that if the book were more symbolic in nature it would simply be a matter of an alteration of doctrine–which truths have been preserved from the wicked at times by a sealing of sorts. But then I got to thinking about the Book of Mormon and how it purports to contain the fulness of the Everlasting Gospel. And, keeping in mind that the BoM is derived from that portion of the plates which were NOT sealed, one may be justified in assuming that the plain and precious truths which constitute the fulness of the gospel (if I may venture) were not hidden in a sealed book, but were plainly manifest.

  34. Robert Ricks on August 4, 2005 at 7:22 am

    Re: #26-29

    The original Dan Peterson article on the subject is here (sorry, don’t know how to turn this into a URL link): http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=jbms&id=223

    I believe there is an expanded version in the John Sorenson festschrift, which may or may not be available online.

  35. Clark on August 4, 2005 at 12:45 pm

    Jack, as I said, there are some problems with either interpretation. Which I don’t necessarily find bad. We’re not dealing with philosophical texts after all.

    If the book is eschatological then it can be revealed multiple times and then be destroyed in its manifestation multiple times. The sealed books are always sealed to come forth in purity, thus restoring knowledge of the book. I think that is the implication of 1 Nephi 14:23-26.

  36. Lisa B. on August 4, 2005 at 1:22 pm

    I was joking about to whom “those” referred (#28) since this is also my believe (about the Tree of Life). So poor choice of words in my post #26. I believe She is mentioned, though not openly so. I wonder why you brought up “the stuff about God’s wife” in conjunction with this discussion (OP).

    I agree that the books may be both literal and figurative books, and that the losses may be both before and after Christ.

    The fact of multiple dispensations of the gospel, as well as the Isaiah statement by Christ makes it seem to me that losses to scriptural purity and truths are continual–in the conscious selection/ deselection/ translation process we traditionally think of, but also naturally–due to human error, limited vision, language limitations, lack of perfect understanding or living, etc. as has been discussed.

    I think the question of losing “a fullness of the gospel” is different than the question of losing “plain and precious truths.” I think a message can go forth “in purity” (signifying intent, not necessarily completeness or perfection) and perhaps even including “a fullness of the gospel” and yet be missing or even having lost some “plain and precious truths.” (Is there a difference between “a” fulness and “the” fullness?)

    I also wonder about the sealing of “books,” Christ’s charitable practice of teaching in parables rather than potentially damning “plainness,” and the process by which light and knowledge are shielded from those either not ready or who have rejected that which they have had. Aren’t Isaiah and Revelations, even Christ’s parabales “sealed” to those who “will not hear”?

    Can someone define eschatological for me? I’m too lazy to look it up.

  37. Clark on August 4, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    Eschatological is the term for narratives about the end times. So an eschatological meaning often is tied up with prophesies or myths about the end of the world, the destruction of ones nation, or even the death of ones self.

  38. Jack on August 4, 2005 at 11:12 pm

    “If the book is eschatological then it can be revealed multiple times and then be destroyed in its manifestation multiple times. The sealed books are always sealed to come forth in purity, thus restoring knowledge of the book.”

    Yes, this is what I was getting at when I said: “…if the book were more symbolic in nature it would simply be a matter of an alteration of doctrine–which truths have been preserved from the wicked at times by a sealing of sorts.” (i.e., an alteration of abstract doctrine/covenants, etc. not limited to one specific text or “book” in hard copy)

    That said, I can’t seem to get around a more “literalist” point of view as it relates to 1Ne 13. IMO, every instance wherein the Lord establishes His people there seems to be the need for a tangible sacred text[s] (not that you’re arguing this point) whether it be Moses’ Law, the brass plates, the BoM, or what have you. (indeed, Nephi indicates in verse 28 of ch14 that he’s writing down some of the vision) Now this is not to say that there is no “eschatological” record. We know there is–2Ne 26 makes that quite clear. My point is that when any portion of the “Lambs Book of Life” is revealed to His people it invariably comes to them in hard copy, though in most cases it would seem that only a “lesser portion” is revealed. Therefore, though the book “which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of a Jew” seems to be open ended in terms of symbolism, it is quite evident that the meridian church thrived on inspired texts which, after having gone through an “abominable” editing process caused the Gentiles to stumble “exceedingly”. Whats more, Nephi sees these same stumbling Gentiles in the Promised Land still carrying the “book”. I don’t know what else that book may be other than the Bible–that is, if we are to take literally the idea of “other books” i.e., the BoM, D&C, PoGP, or anything else that has yet to be revealed–which idea clearly flies in the face of the over arching eschatological book idea (as it relates to ch 13).

    I know I’m beating a dead horse, sorry. I find some comfort in reading ch 13 like Isaiah, that is, viewing it as multi-layered–true in terms of specific historical events as well as in the over-arching eschatological sense.

  39. Lisa B. on August 5, 2005 at 8:15 am

    Thank you for the definition, Clark. I thought it had something to do with the book of Revelation. Guess it does. [smiley]

    Just re-read chapter 13 last night, and then all the intoductory material, and was surprised that the intro says the Bible also contains “the fulness of the gospel.” Huh?? Even with all the plain and precious stuff intentionally and accidentally removed? All along I thought “the point” of “needing” the Book of Mormon was to have a book of scripture than has that. Any thoughts?

    Also found comparisons w/ Rev 22 interesting.

    Ben, I actually was not aware that others were discussing this link. Cool. I’ll listen to that talk. I’ve had the conference on my list of things to do…

  40. Kevin Christensen on August 5, 2005 at 9:04 am

    I find Margaret Barker’s essay here most illuminating on the loss of plain and precious things from the scriptures in the post apostolic period. The essay is “Text and Context” and is included in her book “The Great High Priest.”

    http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/barker.htm

    As a side note, when she presented similar material at the BYU Seminar in May of 2003, Jack Welch literally bolted down to the front, and flipped open her monogrammed triple combination to 1 Nephi 13 and asked her whether she’d read it. (Actually, she had not read the Book of Mormon before she wrote the essay. That came later.) I later asked Jack what she said, and he reported then that she’d asked him about his essay on The Narrative of Zosimus.
    In her 2005 presentation in Washington DC, Barker referred to the 1 Nephi 13 passages as prophetic.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  41. Jack on August 5, 2005 at 11:34 am

    Lisa,

    In verse 24 of chapter 13 it says: “and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel…”. Then in subsequent verses we learn that the plain and precious truths were removed thereby indicating that the “book” contained a fulness before it was altered.

  42. Lisa B. on August 5, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    Jack–Yes, I understand that. My point is that the intro to the BOM states that the BOM contains the fulness of the gospel as does the Bible (no caveats). Hence my statement above that something can contain “the fulness of the gospel” even if it HAS had some most plain and precious parts taken out. We have the fulness of the gospel, and yet there are many great things yet to be revealed (Article of Faith). In other words, it’s full, but not comprehensive/ complete/ whole. We have not yet obtained the mind of God, collectively or individually (speaking for mortals, here, not for those who have passed on to their exaltations).

  43. Jack on August 5, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    Oh yes! Sorry about that, Lisa. I was thinking chapter headings–that sort of thing.

    I have to confess my dark little secret–I find most of the added “help” text a bit frustrating. I rarely read it.

  44. Jim F. on August 5, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    Jack, your “dark little secret” isn’t so dark. A great many others have the same secret. I know some of them personally.

  45. Jack on August 5, 2005 at 1:46 pm

    Well then! I’m in good company–and (grin) misery loves company.