"There is so much more in the Book of Mormon than we have yet discovered. The book's divine architecture and rich furnishings will increasingly unfold to our view, further qualifying it as 'a marvelous work and a wonder' ...The Book of Mormon is like a vast mansion with gardens, towers, courtyards, and wings. All the rooms in this mansion need to be explored..."
-Neal A Maxwell

Friday, August 17, 2012

Unique Voices: Anti-Nephi-Lehi and Giddianhi

If Joseph Smith, either alone or with the aid of conspirators, fabricated the Book of Mormon, he (or they) at least deserve credit for creating a remarkably intricate narrative consisting of numerous characters, each with a distinct persona, voice, and vocabulary. Words and phrases used repeatedly by one Book of Mormon figure, for instance, aren't used at all by any others. Two brief examples (with more to follow):

1) Only ten verses in the entire text of the Book of Mormon,  Alma 24:7-16, contain discourse attributed to Anti-Nephi-Lehi, a Lamanite monarch who converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Within that brief span, he refers to Deity as the “great God” (either my, our, or the great God) five times. A search for the term “great God” in an electronic edition of the Book of Mormon reveals Anti-Nephi-Lehi to be the sole user of this phrase; no other Book of Mormon figure, major or minor, ever references Deity exactly in this manner--not Nephi, Jacob, King Benjamin, Alma the Younger, or Moroni.

Interestingly, the phrase does occur eight times in the Bible--six in the Old Testament and twice in the New (as well as once in the Doctrine and Covenants)--but even here, it is never used in the possessive sense; either a or the great God are referenced, not our or my great God. 

2) Book of Mormon villains manifest distinct voices as well. The only words attributed to Giddianhi, one of the leaders of a secret society bent on overthrowing Nephite civilization, are contained in an epistle comprising 3 Nephi 3:2-10. The recipient, Lachoneus, is twice addressed as “most noble Lachoneus;” the word ‘noble’ appears a total of three times in this missive, yet nowhere else in the text of the Book of Mormon. (The word ‘nobility’ does occur three times and ‘nobles’ once--the latter in the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi--but these usages are as nouns, and synonymous with ‘aristocracy,’ rather than ‘honor’ and ‘virtue.’ ‘Nobly’ doesn’t appear at all.) 

Of note, the phrase “most noble” does appear three times in the Bible. The Apostle Paul uses it twice when addressing (in person) Felix and then his successor, Festus, neither of whom were particularly noble.  

UPDATE, 11/22/12: While Anti-Nephi-Lehi is indeed the only one to refer to the Lord as "our/my great God," another Lamanite, Samuel, once refers to him as "our great and true God" (Helaman 13:18). 

UPDATE 11/28/13: ...and "our great and everlasting God" is referenced by Mormon in Helaman 12:8

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I'm going to enjoy updates to this blog.