In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Monday, February 28, 2011

Evidence for authenticity of the Book of Mormon found in Samuel the Lamanites Sermon from on top of the wall

I stumbled across some old notes that I had taken while reading articles by both Kent Brown and David Bokovoy of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute. Especially in Kent Brown’s study of the poetic structures captured in Samuel the Lamanites Lamenting to the Nephites during his teachings or sermon from on top of the wall at Zarahemla. According to Browns assessment, the individual Lament appears in Helaman 13:32-33:

“O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them and cast them out.”

According to Brown this structure is known as "parallelism of specification" and is a very common form of Biblical poetry. It is evident that Samuel the Lamanite was influenced by the wording of an earlier accounts of Nephi when describing the inhabitants of Jerusalem during his day. The difference is that Nephi’s Lament is a reverse parallel of Samuels. Nephi states that the inhabitants were angry with Lehi;

“yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned and slain.” (1 Nephi 1:20)

Nephi’s description of the crimes committed by the wicked include a three fold intensification reminiscent of biblical story telling. With each act, i.e., casting out, stoning and finally, slaying. The sins described by Nephi become increasingly more grievous. A similar tri-fold intensification appears, for example, in Genesis 12:1, where God commands Abram to sacrifice his country, extended family and finally, immediate family in order to become a great nation (see also the description of Isaac in Genesis 22:2).

In viewing Nephi’s proper order of the events why would Samuel reverse the order? Recently Bible scholars have become more familiar with the reversal as a literary device often times used to draw attention to another source through the use of the reversal of order. For example in Leviticus 26:4 the Lord declared, “and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruits.” When Ezekiel later referred to this promise, he intentionally reversed its original sequence: “and the trees of the field shall yield their fruits, and the land shall yield her increase” (Ezekiel 34:27). Like Kent Brown I believe that Samuel’s reversal of Nephi’s description concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem was intentional. As a result of their wickedness, Samuel appears to link the Nephites with the very people whom their ancestors left behind in order to worship God in the New World.

This brings us back to the age old question, if the Book of Mormon is somehow produced by Joseph Smith jr. or a product of his imagination how could he with his 3rd grade education have known about an ancient literary device such as reverse parallelism of specification? Answer, he simply couldn’t have known. He simply didn’t produce the Book of Mormon as part of his imagination or some of the other pathetic excuses given for its origin. The truth is that Joseph Smith translated it exactly as he proclaimed and evidence will eventually prove his authenticity the same way it will prove the prophets of old.

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