Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Ends of the Atonement?

Posted by robf on February 26, 2010

2nd Nephi 2 is one of the most quoted chapters in the Book of Mormon. Seminary students can quote passages about opposition in all things, and Adam falling that men might be. I think many Latter-day Saints find it profound or beautiful or comforting. But I’ve been reading it every day for the past week, and have decided I pretty much don’t understand any of it!

I’ll start with verse 10. I can’t make heads or tails of it. I don’t know if the syntax is all messed up or what, but I can’t seem to see the relationship between all the phrases. What are the ends of the Atonement, and what do they have to do with affixing happiness or punishment? What is the Christ’s intersession for all men? And what does it have to do with his being “the firstfruits”?

If I read it quickly, like I have most of my life, it all makes sense. But when I really dig in, when I really try to figure out what Lehi is saying, I come up with mostly blanks. I just don’t get it.

In fact, I’m not sure there is a single verse in this chapter that I really understand.

I don’t get the opposition in all things part. Is this an argument against some kind of ancient philosophical monism? There are five “musts” in two verses (11-12) and I’m not sure why any of the things mentioned are “musts” or if there is some kind of logic here that I am not following.

Things to act and things to be acted upon? Is this just making a distinction between people and rocks? Or what? Don’t all things have a measure of intelligence and act in their respective spheres? What is this all about?

And what about men being that they might have joy? I’m not feeling it. I have to admit I just don’t know what this is about either. The whole Fall, Atonement, and Redemption is spoken of in this chapter, but these verses seem to obscure them for me more than anything else.

If anything, I seem to understand less about the Savior from reading this chapter. What’s up with that?

At the end of the teachings, Lehi says that these words are “the good part, according to the words of the prophet”–but I’m not sure what makes these words “the good part” or who “the prophet” is that Lehi is referring to. Isaiah? It’s all just a mystery to me.

Help me out here. I never thought this chapter was all that difficult before. But somehow, it has slid into obscurity for me. Can we spend some time on this one? Here or on the wiki? I feel like all of a sudden I don’t really know a close family member I’ve known all my life. I hate feeling like this chapter might as well be written in another language, ’cause I just don’t get it!

81 Responses to “Ends of the Atonement?”

  1. Matt W. said

    I don’t have my scriptures in front of me at this second, but the main point of this chapter to me is the atonement bringing about true freedom of choice. Freedom is the ends of the atonement, as it were. Fore example when talking about opposition, he says otherwise all things would be a compound in one. I take this as only having one choice (ie no choice) if there were no opposition. That’s all I have from memory.

  2. Jacob J said

    I empathize with your sentiments. I have had this feeling while reading 2 Ne 2 many times. I agree with Matt W’s summary. One other suggestion you can take or leave: I think Alma 42 is Alma’s commentary on 2 Ne 2 representing his take on exactly the questions you’re asking. It would take too much space to back that up, I’ll have to consider finishing my post on that for NCT.

  3. kirkcaudle said

    Thanks for your thoughts here Rob. I am going to reread this chapter later on and then respond with some thoughts. You bring up some vital issues for understand the text here.

  4. joespencer said

    Yes, good post, Rob. I’ve wrestled with the language of this chapter for years, even refusing for some of those years to say anything publicly about 2 Nephi 2, because I felt it was one of several places in scripture (D&C 88 being another) that I couldn’t make any real sense out of. I think I’ve finally come, in the past year or two, to some answers about what’s at work in this chapter, but I haven’t the time this morning to spell out my reading. Hopefully I’ll get to it soon….

  5. RobF said

    Thanks everyone. Kirk and Joe, look forward to your thoughts!

  6. joespencer said

    A few notes to get started….

    Verses 1-4a

    These are, of course, the most straightforward verses in the chapter. However, I think they set up an important point of context. For one, because they introduce the theme of “consecrated affliction,” they make it clear in advance that the point of the chapter will in part be to make sense of how God “uses” something tragic like the Fall in order to get His work done. For another, the language of “thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God,” taken in an ancient Judean context, would seem to have reference to the temple: it would seem that Jacob was being told that the words to follow were to be understood as being rooted in a ritual or liturgical context. But let me get on to some of the more difficult material.

    Verse 4b

    “And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” As I read the chapter, this sentence summarizes the whole message: Lehi’s point will be that the Fall was controverted from the very beginning, such that human life is situated between two poles that open up a tension. Those two poles turn out to be death and resurrection. This will have to come to make sense as the chapter proceeds.

    Verse 5

    “And by the law no flesh is justified.” I think it’s crucial that the emphasis, from the very beginning of the hard theology here, is on the flesh. However it is that the law cuts human beings off, it does so by preventing the flesh specifically from being justified. What we are working with, in short, is a theology of the flesh—and this term must, I think, be distinguished from the term “body/bodies.” Whereas a body is a localizable, total system, grounded and centered by a self-recognizing consciousness, flesh is the very substance of the world—the stuff by which the separability of a body from the world is called into question. Flesh is a material category, while bodies are what take shape as a certain “set” of material is subjectivized. In the simplest terms, while a body is always “mine,” the flesh can (and usually does) outstrip such “ownership.”

    “The temporal law” and “the spiritual law.” Lehi here doesn’t specify what he has in mind with the terms “temporal law” and “spiritual law,” but I do think it important that he draws a distinction between the temporal and the spiritual from the very beginning. These terms will come, by at least the time of Alma, to have reference to two sequential laws given to Adam and Eve, the temporal one being the one regarding the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the spiritual one being the commandments given after the Fall (see Alma 12 in particular). I don’t know if it is fair to assume that Lehi has a similar understanding—and especially so early in Nephite history—and it seems clear that Lehi is a bit more pessimistic about human ability to “keep” the law than is Alma. At any rate, it is straightforwardly clear that Lehi draws a distinction between the temporal and the spiritual. This might become clearer as the chapter proceeds.

    Verse 6

    This verse is, for the most part, relatively straightforward. The cutting off and perishing described in verse 5 are to be “fixed” through the work of “the Holy Messiah.” I’ll confess that I love the pairing of “grace and truth,” though I don’t know how crucial that pairing is here (it is, one presumes, “originally” Johannine).

    Verse 7

    “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law.” This verse, it seems to me, has three crucial complex terms that need to be dealt with. First: what does Lehi mean by “sacrifice for sin”? Second: what are “the ends of the law”? Third: what on earth does Lehi mean by the word “answer”? I’ll have to take these up again when I can get back to this.

    • J. Madson said

      When Lehi says temporal I tend to view this as a temporary law, a law applying only to this temporal probation. In short, not eternal. I will have to parse the verses agin though to see if that is really what he means by it

      • joespencer said


        I think I agree with that reading. My suspicion (perhaps vaguely advanced above) is that Lehi has reference to the “thou shalt not eat of the fruit” commandment from the Garden—a law that is certainly temporary in that, once it was broken, it no longer makes sense to speak of it as binding. (In Alma 12, Alma claims that the “spiritual law,” the second law, took the place of the “temporal law.”)

  7. kirkcaudle said

    ok, so I finally got some time to read over this chapter again. I jotted down a few thoughts. Here are a few:

    V1-2 Jacobs early childhood should be seen as an allegory for our own lives, we “suffer affliction and much sorrow” due to the actions of others. I believe this holds true for the Adam and Eve narrative in v15-25.

    V3-4 Redemption comes “because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer . . . and salvation is free.” Imo, this is the thesis statement of the chapter. Salvation is a gift, not something we earn. We are saved by the righteous of Christ, not by our own deeds.

    V5 The whole issue of “the law” confuses me in this chapter. However, I like the comments provided by Joe and J in regards to this verse. But could Lehi be specifically referring to the Law of Moses in this context? Perhaps, this refers to the temporal, or temporary (to steal a phrase from J), law Lehi and his family are under at this time. After all, The Law of Moses is “suffient” to know good from evil (and I think Paul would agree).

    V14 Lehi turns from just talking with Jacob. Lehi is now talking with his “sons.”

    V17 Compare this verse with Moses 4:4. I am not sure what to make of this distinction, if anything, but Lehi reports Satan “became a devil” while Moses reports Satan becoming “even the devil.” A slight textual difference between “a” and “the” that I find interesting.

    V30 could the “prophet” spoken of by Lehi in this verse be Moses? I know Isaiah generally appears to the prophet of choice for the immediate family of Lehi but I am not sure that is the case here. Also, notice Lehi uses the “words” not “writing” to describe these teachings. So maybe this is an oral tradition? Torah? I think this case for Moses is furthered if we see “the Law” as referring to the Mosaic Law. It is also furthered by Lehi’s discussion on Adam and Eve. But maybe v17 throws a wrench in my theory because Lehi has “read” something?

  8. Robert C. said

    Rob, what I find so infuriating (in the best sense!) about verse 10 is the grammatical incorrectness. It seems that the second half of the verse is not a completed clause or sentence—a kind of beginning thought that gets distracted before it ever finishes, or something.

    One possibility that just now occurs to me is that the “wherefore the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given” is modifying the “him” in the previous clause (“according to the truth and holiness which is in him“). On this reading, the “ends of the law” and the “punishment which is affixed . . . in opposition to the happiness which is affixed” are all parallel to the “ends of the atonement” and are a kind of restatement of “the truth and holiness which is in him.”

    But I still can’t really make sense of this verse either….

    Also, of perhaps some interest, Skousen takes out the capitalization of “for” in the beginning of verse 11, so the string of clauses beginning in verse 10 (“Wherefore they stand…”) ends only at the first line of verse 11.

    Joe, I’d like to hear you elaborate on this flesh vs. body reading. I’m esp. interested in how you read the “or by the law men are cut off” phrase that seems to parallel the “no flesh is justified” phrase. If “flesh” is parallel to “men,” then I think we have an interesting theological inflection here of themes of rebirth, putting off the natural man, etc. Also, I’d think we need to understand any distinction between flesh and body in light of the curious use of the terms “body” and “soul” that Nephi uses elsewhere (esp. 1 Nephi 15:31…).

    • joespencer said

      I thought about the possibility of taking “flesh” as parallel to “men” in verse 5, but I don’t think it works in the end—particularly because of the word “or.” At some point, I’d like to take up the body/flesh question in the Book of Mormon more generally (maybe after I actually finish my series on the remnant?), but it’s something I’ve only toyed around with a bit, particularly in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

  9. joespencer said

    Back to

    Verse 7

    Only in two places does the Book of Mormon speak of Christ’s atonement as a sacrifice, here and in Alma 34 (Amulek). Significantly, Lehi speaks of Christ as offering himself as a sacrifice. I don’t know that much more can be said about what Lehi has in mind when he uses the word “sacrifice” (much more can be said about what Amulek means, but I read him as having a theology of atonement quite distinct from Lehi). Whatever the purchase of the term is here, it will have to be read in the language of answering the ends of the law.

    So what are the ends of the law? The most obvious reading takes “ends” here to refer to something like the law’s “aim” or “purpose,” taking the law as teleological. Another, however, takes the word to refer to the (unfortunate) consequences of the law’s imposition: “the ends of the law” are the unfortunate circumstances in which we find ourselves after the law has been given to us. Perhaps, though, these two interpretations are more or less equivalent: the purpose of the law was to introduce precisely to bring us to these unfortunate circumstances (I’ve got the epistle to the Romans in mind here).

    On this reading, “to answer” is to respond to, or even to correspond to. The self-sacrifice sets itself up in tension with the consequential law, establishing the very opposition that will be fleshed out in verse 10—that is, in the verse in which Lehi comes back to the question of the ends of the law.

    Verses 8-9

    The force of verse 8 draws on the “unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” bit at the end of verse 7. Given that sine qua non, one can see the massive importance of preaching the word, of letting all know that “there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God” except through the Messiah. Note again that the emphasis is on flesh: it is the flesh that must be redeemed, not persons or individuals, for Lehi.

    Importantly, flesh is to redeemed through “the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah,” but note that it is specifically through the resurrection (there is no mention of the “spiritual” atonement at all here): the “grace of the Holy Messiah” is manifest in that He “layeth down his life according to the flesh and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead.” Flesh must be redeemed, and it is redeemed through the resurrection—an event that must be announced to all. The way to be “saved” is simply, according to verse 9, to “believe in him,” to trust that the resurrection happened/will happen. Note also that even the “intercession” of Christ on our behalf is a question of resurrection, in verse 9 of Christ’s resurrecting in order to intercede, and in verse 10 of our being raised to stand before the same God.

    Verse 10

    Here, in the first part of this verse, we have a very standard Book of Mormon idea: Christ’s resurrection effects a universal resurrection, and that universal resurrection brings us into judgment in the presence of God. But if that is straightforward enough, the rest of the verse is immensely difficult, as Rob and Robert have already begun to point out.

    There are two ways to read the (un)grammar of the remainder of the verse. On the one hand, one can take the word “wherefore” as being used in a fashion something like “hence.” One need not ever actually employ a verb in a sentence that begins with “hence.” (Something like: “We we going to die! Hence the screaming.”) On this reading, the whole second half of verse 10 would amount to a kind of explanation of what necessarily needed to be in place given the resurrection. I’m not sure that I can really settle with this reading. On the other hand, then, one can take the second half of the verse as an incomplete sentence, as the beginning of a sentence that Lehi abandons. This is very common in the Book of Mormon, a consequence, I think, of what might be called its “orality.” The Book of Mormon generally has a kind of oral flavor (whether one takes this to mean that the Nephites had a generally oral style, that writing never became for them anything more than a technique for preserving orally constructed words, or whether one takes this to mean that Joseph Smith’s oral dictation had quite a bit to do with how the “original” was rendered), and that means that it often starts a sentence, opens up some kind of parenthetical aside, and then never gets back to the originally started sentence. I suspect that this is what we have going on here.

    If the latter reading is correct, then verse 10 isn’t so much ungrammatical as incomplete. We would have to take verse 11 as the beginning of a side explanation that, after a bit, ends up taking up the whole of Lehi’s attention. And that seems quite straightforwardly to be the case. Verse 10 is setting up a crucial opposition, and verse 11 starts off down the path of explaining the necessity of opposition. This way of reading the text suggests that Lehi only gets back to the topic of verse 10 when he comes to verse 13. Unfortunately, though, he never comes back to the actual sentence of verse 10. It seems to me, though, that one can take what verse 13 lays out as helpful in constructing the basic meaning of verse 10.

    Also crucial, as I’ve already indicated, is the meaning of verse 7. Indeed, the best way of reading verses 7-13 is to take verse 8-10a as a first aside and verses 11-12 as a second aside, such that Lehi’s “core discussion” of the law and atonement is made up of verses 7, 10b, and 13, as follows:

    Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin,
    to answer the ends of the law unto all those
    which have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
    And unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
    Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given
    unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed—
    which punishment that is affixed is in opposition
    to that of the happiness which is affixed,
    to answer the ends of the atonement— . . . .
    [Anyway], if ye shall say there is no law,
    ye shall also say there is no sin.
    And if ye shall say there is no sin,
    ye shall also say there is no righteousness.
    And if there be no righteousness,
    there be no happiness.
    And if there be no righteousness nor happiness,
    there be no punishment nor misery.
    And if these things are not,
    there is no God. [Etc.]

    Without getting too far into all of this (I’m running out of time for this comment!), let me just say for now that the second half of verse 10 just seems to me to be setting up the basic opposition of the affixed punishment and the affixed happiness, of “the ends of the law” and “the ends of the atonement.” That being the case, it seems to me that Lehi’s aside in verses 11-12 is quite crucial, and I’ll take that up before I get to verse 13 in my next comment.

  10. kirkcaudle said

    verses 8-9

    The merits, mercy, and grace of Christ in verse 8 are what allows Christ to be “the firstfruits unto God” in verse 9. However, verse 9 reads “he is the firstfruits unto God.” He is singular, while fruits is plural. I find that interesting.

    Could it be that without Christ there are no firstfruits? Thus, although many people are of the church of the first born, Christ is ultimately everything. For example, Christ is the church, we are not the church. We may serve in the church in various callings, but when all is said and done, Christ is everything.

    Any other ideas on the singular and plural readings of verses 8 and 9?

    • joespencer said


      In terms of English, I don’t know that there is any particular reason to read into the plurality of “firstfruits.” According to the OED, the word as it appears is “chiefly plural,” and simply means, in its figurative usage, “The earliest products, results, or issues of anything; the first products of a man’s work or endeavor.” (Note also that while the word “firstfruit” appears in the singular twice in the KJV, it never appears in the Book of Mormon.)

      Turning to the Hebrew precedents in the OT, however, the word “firstfruits” does sometimes translate the plural word bicurim. In other instances, though, it also translates the singular word re’shit. In short, the word does not consistently translate either a plural or a singular term in the KJV rendering of the OT.

      In short, I don’t know that it’s a great idea to read anything theological into the plural. But I’m glad you raised the question, since it forced me to look at a few things and learn something about it all. :)

  11. KirkCaudle said

    Joe, I was thinking about the usage of the word firstfruits as it appears in D&C 88 more than the Biblical usage. Although I did not know the useful information you provided. D&C 88:96-98 states:

    96 And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.
    97 And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
    98 They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.

    Lehi uses firstfruits to describe one individual, Christ. Joseph Smith uses firstfruits to describe many people, first trump/celestial glory. Therefore, it appears that 2 Ne. 2:9 could more correctly be read with the idea of, “Christ is the firstfruit of all the firstfruits.” With the firstfruit (singular) there can be no firstfruits (plural).

    That is then why 2 Ne. 2:9 reads,”Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.” The firstfruit paves the way for the firstfruits.

    Joe, you could be right about this not being an issue. In fact, I am on the fence at this point about how much to read into this theologically. This is really the first time I have viewed the verse from this angle. Perhaps there is not as much here as I purposing. But I am not sure.

    As a side note, if Lehi is using firstfruits in the Biblical sense, then I think that gives even more steam to the idea of “the prophet” referred to in V30 as Moses and not Isaiah (see my #7 post) because then Lehi must be referring to the Torah.

    • joespencer said

      Ah, thanks for the clarification, Kirk. Very helpful. I see not only where you were coming from now, but also that you might be on to something. I took you to be trying to generate an entire theology from the presence of the “s” at the end of “firstfuits” alone, not from a larger theme. My apologies.

  12. RobF said

    Thanks for the commentary so far. I’m still really struggling with this :-)

    As far as “ends”, this discourse talks about the ends of:
    the law (vs.7,10)
    atonement (v.10)
    the creation of “it” (“one body”? what?) (v.12)
    man (v.15)
    “all things which were created” (v.22)

    Lehi seems to be making some big moves here, wrapping “all things which were created” into the atonement somehow, but I’m still not entirely following it.

    Part of me is wondering if he’s saying something backwards of what we are used to thinking, something along the lines of “the atonement made opposition (and the fall) necessary” rather than vice versa?

    • joespencer said

      I suspect he’s saying something like that, Rob. Or rather, I see him as saying that the two (fall and atonement) answer one another, that neither is more primordial. Or at least, that’s what I see him saying in the first half of the chapter (I think things change a bit as the chapter proceeds).

      Actually, it would be better to say that he wants to set up the law (rather than the fall) as answering to the atonement, and vice versa. Law and atonement, for Lehi, set up the two poles between which is stretched out the space of tension that defines human probation. The whole “point” of creation, it seems, is to set up this fundamental opposition of law and atonement.

      But the unfolding drama of this opposition takes the shape of a story of (1) the fall and (2) the resurrection. These are the two events that give substance to the theoretical opposition.

      Something like that.

  13. kirkcaudle said

    I still think how we define “the law” in v7,10 is crucial. Everyone seems to define it different. In fact, I am not always sure “the law” in this chapter refers to the same law. I am somewhat inclined to see v5 and v7 as speaking of the Mosaic Law, while 10 might be speaking of something higher.

    I guess it just seems out of character (for lack of a better term) for an exiled prophet during this time period to speak of “the Law” without the connotation of the Mosaic Law.

    • joespencer said

      I’m inclined to read “the law” as a rather abstract term in Lehi’s discourse. I’m not sure I see that as being so out of place when Lehi has had visions that have carried him far beyond the beliefs of the Old World he left behind.

      That said, I don’t think his discussion is without connection to the Mosaic Law: the basic tension between law and atonement is bound up within the Law of Moses itself. And I don’t doubt that he has reference to that, to some extent. However, the fact that he is setting up a story about the fall from Eden and the resurrection of the Messiah shows that he has also moved a good distance beyond that basic tension.

      This might be one reason it is important to see Jacob as being informed, at the beginning of this discourse, of his relationship to the temple that will be built. The temple will be the place where the Law of Moses will takes its most definitive shape, but also where the larger, theological implications of that law will be explored.

  14. kirkcaudle said

    Would this then be the first time in the Book of Mormon that “the Law” would refer to something other than the Law of Moses? If so, then that makes the chapter all the more intriguing.

    According to the index of the scriptures the Law of Moses is only mentioned twice before 2 Ne. 2 (1 Ne. 4: 16 and 1 Ne. 17: 22). However, the word “law” alone, as it is used by Lehi, makes it’s first appearance in 2 Ne. 2:5.

    Hmmm. So it then appears that Lehi is talking about “law” as something totally different than has been presented previous to this point. And by different, I mean deeper understanding.

    Good stuff.

  15. RobF said

    What this discourse may be doing for me is shattering some sort of conception (a cartoon version?) of the plan of salvation where, perhaps in some sort of eternal Newtonian space we can easily separate creation, fall, atonement, and veil/return? Perhaps this is all muddled for me because in some way these things can’t be separated–each is the other? You can’t create without creating a fall/atonement? Not sure where I’m going with these thoughts. Perhaps shifting off into some sort of Eastern metaphysics?

  16. RobF said

    Joe, you say the first four verses of the chapter are the most straightforward. I wonder :-)

    Verse 1
    Jacob…first born in the days of my tribulation
    Why does Lehi talk about Jacob as a first-born here? How does this echo the later firstfruits discussion? Why did Lehi call his first born in the wilderness “Jacob”–does that somehow cast Lehi as “Isaac”? If so, what does that mean?

    Days of tribulation
    What’s up with that? How does Lehi’s days of tribulation echo or prefigure or cast the later discussion here? Is it a type of his view of mortality? creation? opposition? How are Lehi’s days of tribulation marked differentiated from his “preexistent” days in Jerusalem or “paradise” days in the land of promise?

    What the heck is an affliction? What do afflictions have to do with the theme of this discourse?

    What’s this all about? What does sorrow have to do with the theme of this discourse? What is the source of sorrow?

    Rudeness of thy brethren
    I think rudeness here can be read something like “physical roughness”–something very tangible rather than just a thought or idea or words. What does the physical rough and tumble and even danger of violence that Jacob has experienced relate to the theme of this discourse?

    It’s easy to read this verse quickly. But on slowing down, maybe the whole thrust of this discourse is contained somehow in this verse?

    • RobF said

      heading over to play with this a little more at the Feast wiki…

      • joespencer said

        Uh, yeah. Let me emphasize most. That is, I don’t at all mean that these verses are straightforward. Only that they are much more straightforward than the complex materials that follow!

  17. kirkcaudle said

    Rob, I really like all of post #15.

  18. Robert C. said

    Kirk, I think this question of law is a very important one. I agree that Lehi is taking the law to refer to the law(s) given to Adam and Eve, not just the law of Moses. I think Jacob’s discourse in 2 Nephi 9 should be read in light of this move on Lehi’s part, since it seems clear that Jacob has the Fall in mind (as I think Joe already mentioned). Interestingly, however, it seems that the Book of Jacob returns to a more narrow focus on law only as it relates to the law of Moses. This highlights, to me, the sense in which 1st and 2nd Nephi are tightly structured, making a theological point rather distinct from perhaps what Jacob himself was actually preaching, or at least what is recorded in the Book of Jacob. Hmm…..

    Also, I think the question of law, as a theological concept, as it develops in the larger plates would be a fascinating question to take up. On the one hand, it seems that the institution of the reign of the judges, with what I’ve elsewhere claimed is a kind of secularization among the Nephites. But this is no pure secularizing move since the “secular” laws seem to retain important theological import.

    Consider, for example, Helaman 4:22, “they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah . . . and they saw that their laws had become corrupted. . . .” Or, Helaman 5:2: “For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for their laws had become corrupted.” I am very interested in this intertwining of the secular and the sacred, or temporal and spiritual, that seems to be going on in the large plates (and I’m hoping this will help me work out the underlying Habermas vs. Ranciere issue that I keep bothering Joe with, which in my mind is ultimately a question of how to reconcile these kind of socio-theological issues in the large plates vis-a-vis what seems to be a more spiritual-theological focus in the small plates, and in 3rd Nephi…).

  19. joespencer said

    Okay, I’m going to try to get through verses 11-12 this morning.

    Verse 11

    Famously: “it must needs be that there is an opposition in all things.” This seems to me to be a kind of justificatory sentence: the “for” that introduces it makes it clear that it is meant to explain/justify what precedes it in verse 10 (namely, the idea that there are affixed in opposition the two poles of punishment and happiness). A first thing to notice about the sentence, though, is that it doesn’t claim that there must be opposition in all things, but that there must be an opposition in all things. This could be read in several ways. First, it could be read as a claim that any set of things must be grounded in an opposition particular to that set—that establishment of a set in part entails the organization of some structuring opposition. Second, it could be read as a claim that all things, as things, are structured through an opposition to some other things—that thingly existence is a question of structural opposition. Third, and this is the most provocative reading, it could be read as a claim that all things collectively are somehow related to one particular opposition that allows things as such to appear.

    This last option seems to me to be the best reading, particularly if one reads carefully the rest of the verse. It does not go on, as it is usually read, to list a series of crucial oppositions. Rather, it goes on to show how the tensions that give meaning to existence are “brought to pass” by this (if I can call it this) “primordial” opposition: “If not so, my first born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness,” etc. This language seems to me to suggest that there is some foundational opposition that Lehi has in mind, one that allows for all other “oppositions” to take shape.

    The foundational opposition in question, it seems, is the one outlined in verse 10: the opposition between an affixed punishment and an affixed happiness—the opposition established by “the law.”

    The next line in verse 11 is difficult: “wherefore all things must needs be a compound in one.” This can be read in two completely opposite ways. On the one hand, it can be read as explaining what follows from there not being an (this particular) opposition at the root of things: the result would be merely “a compound in one,” some kind of distinctionless whole. On the other hand, it can be read as turning from the lack of opposition back to what then must be the case (given the primordial opposition): because the lack of this foundational opposition would lead to there not being any of the crucial tensions that make up the experiential world, everything needs to be a compound (of so many things) in one (that is, in one world). In other words, “compound in one” is ambiguous, and could refer either to the undifferentiated result of there not being a foundational opposition, or to the differentiated compound that follows from the foundational opposition.

    Is one of these a better reading than the other? It would seem that the talk of “one body” in the next line would be a repetition of this “compound in one” business, and so would seem to favor the “negative” reading. However, there may be an important gap between the “one” of the compound and the “one” of a body. Are these at all referring to the same thing? In the end, I don’t know that I can decide between the two readings.

    So, leaving that quite open, let me turn to the second half of the verse, which is, I think, a bit easier to tackle. The logic is, for the most part, relatively straightforward: if we have “one body,” without this foundational opposition, we end up with something that is “as dead,” and so that cannot develop any of the fundamental tensions that structure bodies as such: life/death, corruption/incorruption, happiness/misery, sense/insensibility. Looking at this list of tensions, I think it is necessary to recognize that it is quite literally bodies that Lehi is talking about: these tensions are not tensions like good/bad and righteousness/wickedness as before, but are tensions that makes bodies “animal” bodies.

    I assume, then, that Lehi has Adam and Eve in mind here: if the body remains (and this word “remains” really makes it clear that we’re dealing with the Garden!) only one body, unaffected or un-split by law (boy, this starts to sound Freudian here), then it is as dead—not actually dead, but as dead: it does not actually live, nor does it decay (corruption), nor can it experience happiness, nor does it have any sense; and again, it isn’t actually dead, it cannot experience its incorruption, it cannot experience misery, and it isn’t even, technically, insensible. In order for any of these to make sense, there must be some primordial or foundational opposition, one set in motion by the announcement of a law.

    I think.

    Verse 12

    What is thus stripped from the thing is its “purpose.” It would be “a thing of naught,” a thing without orientation or direction. It would have an end without end, an aimless aim. And this would, of course, destroy the wisdom of God, who obviously gives purpose and aim to things He creates.

    In particular, the very terms “mercy” and “justice” would be without meaning. That, I think, is crucial. But Lehi doesn’t come back to this point at all. I won’t go on and on about it here, then.

    Hopefully, I can get away with so few words on verse 12. At any rate, I’m out of the time this morning.

  20. kirkcaudle said

    Always enjoy reading your thoughts in the morning Joe. They give me something to think about.

  21. Robert C. said

    Joe, regarding your comments on verse 11, I have to admit I haven’t really thought the “compound in one” could be meaningfully read as being synonymous (rather than contrastive) to “one body.” I’ll be interested to see if anything interesting can be made of that.

    For now, I’ll past a couple of paragraphs from Jim’s “Adam and Eve–Community: Reading Genesis 2-3” article that I think are very appropriate to reflect upon in light of verse 11 (doing this was, basically, the central problematic of my ramblings at SMPT last year…).

    29. The problem of community first appears explicitly in Genesis 2.24, in that Man and Woman are to become one flesh. Woman is made from the flesh of Man. Even so are all humans made from the flesh of Man and Woman. That biological unity, however, does not make them one. Like Man, Woman is made uniquely in the image of God, as indeed are all human beings. Woman and Man are and will remain other than one another; each is infinitely opaque. Any account of human being, then, must take into account both the non-biological communality of human being, something to be striven for, and the opacity of individual humans. The world has begun with humans who are both the same and other. The creation story tells us that the community to be established must be a unity that is not merely biological and that does not deny the opacity of the individuals who are in community. The community must avoid elevating commonality and thereby becoming mere collectivity, and i
    t must avoid as well elevating individuality into mere acosmism. If there is to be community, it must hold sameness and otherness jointly as “fundamental,” though reason will find it impossible to hold them together and will, therefore, continue to demand a reduction of one to another or a synthesis of the two. An [page 9] appropriate image is that of Heraclitus, the image of the bow (fr. 51): opposites, the two directions of force in the bow, give the bow its existence – but we seem only to be able to conceive the opposites and not the bow.

    30. The seemingly parenthetical note of Genesis 2.24 not only shows us that human being is communal, it also prefigures the expulsion of Man and Woman from the garden: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto each his wife.” Man and Woman will be forced to leave their father and mother – in this case God – and cleave to each other: in order to be human Man and Woman must leave the divine communion of paradise to live in community with others. In other words, they must die; they must live in history. We have already seen that knowledge and death are inseparably linked (Genesis 2.16-17). It is not simply that Man and Woman have the option of remaining immortally in the garden in ignorance or leaving with knowledge to die. But- if their lives are to be meaningful, if they are to be bound to one another, if they are to be fruitful, if they are to escape the emphatic negative with which God has judged the situation of one alone, in other words, if they are to be human – they must live in community and they must do so estranged from God.

  22. RobF said

    Is there a sense that Lehi is saying that there can’t be a creation without the declaration of law, which immediately creates opposition? That there can’t be a creation without it being an oppositional, or fallen, creation with the need for an Atonement?

    Would it be taking Lehi too far, to try and find some sort of ontological principle here? Is Lehi in some way arguing against some sort of Pre-Socratic monism?

    I guess I’m having visions of some sort of pre-Big Bang singularity that becomes the created universe through a “fall” in which unity is replaced by space, time, and inherent oppositions…

  23. RobF said

    Meanwhile, I’m still back on vs. 2 :-)

    It’s almost like I can see the whole crux of this chapter invested in the word “nonetheless” at the beginning of this verse! In spite of experiencing afflictions and sorrows in the wilderness (world of oppositions), the Lord will somehow turn those afflictions and sorrows into eternal gain for Jacob’s soul. All the hope and joy of the gospel seem to ride on that “nonetheless”!

    But I’m wondering, is there somehow a connection I’m missing between _knowing_ the greatness of God and having one’s afflictions consecrated for one’s gain? Or was knowing the greatness of God just an acknowledgement of Jacob in this case–something along the lines of “you’ve had it rough, but as you know Jacob, God is great and will make those afflictions into blessings”?

    Just as the whole Atonement seems to be prefigured in the first word of this verse, is the whole plan of salvation prefigured in the last verse? The idea of gain for eternal souls? Is the whole point somehow that this world of affliction and sorrows is somehow set up for eternal souls to enter so that they may somehow gain? If so, what does that mean? How do eternal souls gain from passing through these sorrows and afflictions?

  24. Robert C. said

    Yes, Rob, fascinating. I’ve done some thinking about the similar wording regarding “consecration” and “gain”/”riches” in Micah 4:13 and D&C 42:39, and I’ve thought there must be an important relation to 2 Ne 2:2, but I haven’t made that much progress yet. Your comments suggest a very interesting way to do this more productively. Hopefully, I (or someone else) can work through the significance of this in the near future (I’m too rushed now…).

  25. joespencer said

    Verse 13

    Every step of the logic worked out in verse 13 deserves close and careful attention, but if I give such attention to it here, I’ll never get back to the other Feast posts I’m supposed to be working on. I’ll make only this point about the whole verse for now: the overarching idea is, quite straightforwardly, that everything hinges on law; without law, even God disappears from the plan.

    Verse 14

    After tracing the logic from “no law” to “no God,” Lehi now begins as “yes God” and begins to trace his way back. But he does so, now, narratively, rather than in the more abstract theological language of the preceding ten verses. By the end of this verse, he introduces (or rather, reintroduces from verse 13) what will become for him a crucial set of terms: “things to act” and “things to be acted upon.” What these terms mean in an abstract sense is perhaps clear enough, but their crucial position in Lehi’s discourse is much murkier business. Their importance will have to unfold over the course of the remainder of the chapter.

    Verse 15

    “It must needs be that there was an opposition.” This is almost a direct quotation of verse 11 (“is” is replaced with “was”; and the phrase “in all things” at the end of the sentence in verse 11 is here dropped). The opposition in question, as in verse 11, is a foundational law here that opposes a “happiness” and a “punishment”: “the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life, the one being sweet and the other bitter.” The two trees set up the poles between which is stretched the essential tension.

    Verse 16

    Now, though, Lehi adds an element to his earlier discussion. Before, it seemed that the law itself was enough to put everything in place. Now he goes further: “man could not act for himself save it should be that he were enticed by the one or the other.” It is as if the law in and of itself is enough to set up a world, but such a world remains static without some kind of enticement.

    This supplementation is somewhat odd, in many ways. A reader of Saint Paul (or of Freud, for that matter) could argue that the very existence of the law is enough to set the dialectic of acting/acted upon in motion—the imposition of some kind of limit sets desire (specifically the desire to transgress) in motion. (I remember reading a little piece by Umberto Eco that argued that the very semiotic tension of a language with a “no” in it would have set the Fall in motion with or without any actual temptation.) There is, it would seem, some sense in suggesting that no temptation was necessary, that the very existence of the twist of a “no” would be enough to lead things to their inevitable conclusion.

    Lehi disagrees, however. For him, transgression doesn’t follow from the announcement of the law alone, but must instead issue from some kind of additional enticement. The best way of making sense of this, I think, is to assume that the force of law is meaningless in a deathless condition. If for Paul, law is what sets lustful desire in motion, it does so only because death grounds it. But what is the relationship, in the end, between death and the law? The law announced in the Garden of Eden was, importantly enough: “in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” In some sense, death was already inseparable from the law. But, so the argument goes, Adam and Eve had no idea what that meant—the word concerning death had been announced, but it had no existential purpose, no actual meaning, for them.

    All of this suggests that verses 7-13 need to be read with a slightly different inflection: it is not that the existence of a law sets up a world; it is that the transgression of a law sets up a world. And for that to take place—and for it to be something effected (acted) by Adam and Eve directly—some kind of enticement has to get the whole thing moving.

    And that is what Lehi is working out in verse 16.

    But I’m out of time. I’ll have to come back to this point tomorrow, try to make sense of what I’ve worked through here, and keep moving.

  26. RobF said

    I was all set to power on ahead ;-) to verse 3 when I was struck by another aspect of verse 2–

    Past, present, future
    Lehi moves from talking about the past (hast suffered) to the present (knowest) to the future (shall consecrate). Interesting how knowing the greatness of God takes the central/present position. How does knowing the greatness of God (still not sure what he means by that) in the present influence our past and future?

    Once again, seems like all the weight of the Atonement is somehow freighted into that one word, into knowing in the present?

    Had a very interesting discussion with some friends last night about this chapter, and how opposition provides some sort of spiritual friction or resistance that allows spirits to grow–something that isn’t possible in a spirit world. Much more for me to ponder about on that, including a concept of spiritual momentum that we take advantage of in this life and build up through dealing with oppositions in mortality to carry us through our next sojourn in the world of spirits. Can we see mortality in this case as maybe a sort of spiritual gravity assist or gravitational slingshot to help us gain spiritual velocity and momentum?

    Danger to the Soul
    Thinking more about Jacob having suffered rudeness (threat of violence)–and Lehi’s having experienced threats of violence in(a premortal/pre-exodus?) Jerusalem and in the “wilderness” and Joseph Smith’s teachings about eternal spirits being in danger from evil spirits if they don’t have a body. What is going on that we would need to get a body to escape from evil spirits in the spirit world (even though our imperfect bodies in this “wilderness” perhaps provide the Natural Man additional avenues for being bound captive)?

    William Patterson McIntire:
    “Next Meeting-Joseph said that before foundation of the Earth in the Grand Counsel that the Spirits of all Men ware subject to opression & the express purpose of God in Giveing it a tabernicle was to arm it against the power of Darkness”(January 19, 1841).

    So again, can we see Lehi in Jerusalem as a type of the war in heaven/threat of violence or oppression we experienced in a pre-mortal life? Lehi fleeing Jerusalem (and the fallen/defiled temple/paradise/garden) as Adam being “cast out” of the garden? Is Lehi, building an alter in the “wilderness” a type of Adam building his alter in the lone and dreary world? Is Lehi somehow rehearsing a ritual narrative for Jacob here, by casting themselves in the roles of Adam?

  27. Robert C. said

    Loving the continued dual commentary, Rob and Joe. Wish I had more time to engage. . . .

    In light of Rob’s comments on “ends of atonement” and “ends of the law” in this chapter, the “end of man” phrasing in verse 15 is very curious to me. Not sure what to make of it.

    I’ve been wondering about the singular-plural issue regarding “firstfruits” that Kirk mentioned. There’s an interesting play here also: the law and the atonement are “ends” to THE end of man, it seems. An interesting variation, perhaps, of the notion of “meanS to an end” in modern ethical parlance. (I’m thinking here also of a inversion or parallel to Agamben’s “means without end”: ends without means….)

    • joespencer said

      Or duel commentary? :)

      Keep it coming, Rob. Fascinating work. I’d love to take this as slowly as you’re doing, but I’m finding myself trying to hurry to get back to my work on the remnant for a number of reasons (as well as to finish up notes for lesson 6 for GP!).

  28. KirkCaudle said

    Robert #27

    “the law and the atonement are “ends” to THE end of man.”

    I was looking for the right words,but I think that is pretty close to what I was getting at.

  29. joespencer said

    I’ve come to something like the following. For Lehi:

    (1) The (foundational) law, affixing an opposition between a happiness and a punishment, must be announced in order to set up any world.
    (2) In order for such a law actually to set such a world up, however, it is necessary for that law to be transgressed, so that its force can be genuinely rooted in (an existential recognition of) death.
    (3) For a transgression of the law actually to be a transgression of the law, the transgression must be the act (and not the “acted upon”) of the figures involved.
    (4) Hence, some kind of enticement is necessary (the law’s seduction is not enough in itself), in order to get such acting to take place.

    With that sorted out, let me turn to:

    Verses 17-18

    There is a great deal here that needs attention, but for my purposes here these verses are relatively straightforward: Satan comes on the scene. I’d like to deal only with two crucial oddities.

    First, why does Lehi only have Eve being tempted? The Genesis story, of course, doesn’t have Adam being tempted either, but it does have Eve giving the fruit to Adam. In Lehi’s version, there is the temptation, and then there is the fact that both have eaten. It is as if, for Lehi, all that matters is the existence of an enticement: there is no need to bother with Adam’s or Eve’s “process” of making the decision to eat; the enticement is enough to ensure that the whole thing would happen. Of course, this leaves one wondering whether the two really did act, then.

    Second, it is certainly significant that the enticement is entirely negative: the only enticer is Satan, and the only enticement is to transgression. Back in verse 16, though, there was this business of “enticed by the one or the other.” Here, it is a question simply of being enticed by the one, the transgression. Of course, if it was transgression that was necessary in order to give the law its force, then this would have to be the enticement. But this just highlights the odd nature of the idea that transgression is necessary to give the law its force: law is without force unless it is disobeyed, unless it ends up connected to (existentially recognized) death. So, Adam and Eve might have acted if they had been enticed by either option, but if they had been enticed only to obedience and not to transgression, their act would have never resulted in the actual opposition necessary to found a world.

    Verses 19-20

    The narrative continues: out of the Garden, and then children. I don’t want to dwell here, but this quick move to the family of Adam and Eve will prove significant.

    Verse 21

    Lehi here introduces what will become a consistent Book of Mormon theme: the prolongation of the days of Adam and Eve and the consequent establishment of a probationary state. The prolongation is, everywhere else in the Book of Mormon, connected to the transgressed “first” commandment concerning the fruit: the penalty—thou shalt surely die—was postponed. For Lehi, this postponement was “according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men,” these being the “second” commandments, those Alma describes (in Alma 12) as being associated with a second penalty, a spiritual (rather than a temporal) death. Lehi summarizes them in terms of repentance.

    Verses 22-23

    Finally Lehi comes back to the themes of the first half of the chapter: if the transgression had not taken place, the law would have had no force and so there would have been no purpose, etc. And of course, none of the tensions characterizing life could have been brought to pass: joy/misery, good/sin, etc.

    Here, too, though Lehi introduces his strange claim that Adam and Eve could have had no children had they not left the Garden. There are many ways to make sense of this claim, but Lehi doesn’t really offer us any answers. The simplest approach—the one that has usually been taken—is simply to suggest that their bodies were not capable of bearing children until the Fall had taken place. That may well be. I suspect there is a great deal more going on here, much of which could bear in significant ways on the kinds of things I’ve been trying to sort out here. (How is death intertwined with desire? How does law entangle itself with sexuality? Etc.)

    For now, though, I want to move on so I can finish this up tomorrow.

    Verses 24-25

    First a word of assurance: “all things have been done int he wisdom of him who knoweth all things.” And then a statement about what’s behind all of this: “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.”

    But the most important word is still to come.

  30. RobF said

    Thanks Joe, keep it coming! I know I’m kinda slow, but I still don’t get all this about worlds, law, death, enticement, and acting. I suspect I’ll get there…eventually :-)

  31. kirkcaudle said

    Rob, at least you have good company in your confusion :)

  32. Robert C. said

    Probably obvious question, but is the fruit of the tree of life bitter or sweet? In other words, should we read verse 15 as a parallelism or a chiasm?

    “the forbidden fruit
    ___in opposition to the tree of life;
    ___the one being sweet
    and the other bitter.”


    “the forbidden fruit
    ___in opposition to the tree of life;
    the one being sweet
    ___and the other bitter.”

    In verse 16, the “enticed by the one or the other” issue that Joe mentioned, might be stated a bit more precisely by quoting the first part of that sentence: “man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed. . . .” So, in Lehi’s theology, it seems that the possibility of being enticed by in a positive or negative way is theoretically possible in order to constitute “act[ing] for [one]self.” However, as the later verses make clear, only the negative enticement leads to the possibility of joy, offspring, etc.

    I think the (theodicy-related) implications for this asymmetry between positive and negative enticement are really fascinating (thanks for emphasizing it, Joe!). I’ll likely engage this issue more when I post my notes on the Creation RS/MP Lesson #6….

    • RobF said

      See my note below on possibility that Lehi is making a distinction between souls which are acted upon and spirits which act. Possibly Lehi is saying that “man (nephesh–the living soul) could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed (influenced by a good or bad ruah–spirit)”? Or perhaps that the ruah of man could not act for himself unless it is enticed by a good or bad ruah?

      Looks like I’m not going to be moving quickly through this anytime soon!

  33. RobF said

    So a week into this, and I’m ready to start tackling v.3

    Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.

    I’m taking this to mean something like “because of this” or “for this cause” or (from Websters 1828 dictionary) “for which reason”. If that is right, then what is mentioned in the following clause may be seen to be caused by the preceding clause. Keeping track of how everything mentioned in this verse relates to each other gets tricky in this short verse loaded down with two wherefores, a because, and a for! But here goes!

    thy soul shall be blessed
    So, somehow Jacob’s soul being blessed is a result of something in v.2 (or even including v.1)? At the very least, this looks like a reiteration or maybe expansion of the preceding “and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for gain”. I’m still unclear about how all of this relates to Jacob’s “know[ing] the greatness of God”, and I’m not sure at this point we know what Lehi could possibly mean by a soul being blessed. I’m not sure how Lehi is considering the soul–Latter-day Saints tend to see it as the united body and spirit, but is Lehi using the term differently here? What is a soul for Lehi?

    According to W.E. Staples, Old Testament prophets during the time of Lehi made a distinction between the nephesh (soul) that was the seat of emotions and desires “a thing that can be acted upon” and the ruah (spirit) of man which is a thing that can act (1928: 157).

    Does this distinction between soul (nephesh) and spirit (ruah) come into play here in Lehi’s discourse? Are these the things that act (ruah) and are acted upon (nephesh)? Are we missing something important by imposing our modern understandings and metaphysics on Lehi here? Joe, maybe you can further flesh out this business of spirits (with attitudes and direction) acting and souls (with desires) being acted upon?

    Interestingly, Staples goes on to show that in Proverbs the breaking of spirit (ruah not guiding the life aright) is cast as the opposite of the “source of life” or “true pleasure” represented by the tree of life (Proverbs 15:4, cf Isaiah 65:14)(1928:166).

    This seems kind of alien to me. Perhaps we bring it back closer to our understanding of souls as united bodies and spirits in the creation account where Adam becomes a living soul (nephesh) when the Lord breathes the breath of life (neshamah) into his body. But that seems to leave us without an eternal individual spirit?

    I need to take a closer look at how Lehi (and Nephi) use the terms soul (presumably nephesh) and spirit (presumably ruah).

    Which means I’m not going to get much farther in v.3 today and could use some help if anyone has thoughts about nephesh and ruah!

  34. joespencer said

    Verse 26

    Here the wisdom of God takes real shape, as well as the means by which humanity can achieve the joy mentioned in verse 25: “the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.” This is crucial, I think, because this redemption—as is clear from verses 8-9, etc.—is a question of the resurrection. (I’ve argued elsewhere that Book of Mormon authors, with the possible exception of Amulek, do not have the concept of an atonement suffered separately from the event of the atonement. In the Book of Mormon, the resurrection is the atonement.) It is thus the resurrection that renders humans “free forever.” Because they have fallen, they “know good and evil,” and because they have, through the resurrection, been freed from the overwhelming power of death, they are set up “to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.”

    The idea here is, I think, relatively straightforward, but absolutely crucial: inasmuch as sin is a consequence of mortality, a question of one’s being inevitably oriented to death, the dawn of the resurrection allows for a reorientation that distracts one from death and orients one to the resurrection. With the two possible orientations on the horizon—one “natural” and more or less knowable (death) and the other a question of an event to which one must give oneself in faith (resurrection)—one is free, at last, to choose. And what one must choose is whether one would rather live a life of “knowledge” (oriented to death, in sin) or of faith (oriented to the resurrection, redeemed). (This, by the way, makes sense at last of the very idea of grace, but I’ll leave that aside for now.)

    Verse 27

    This freedom to select one’s orientation (after the announcement of the resurrection) is a freedom that Lehi can describe as being—quite significantly—“according to the flesh.” The flesh itself is to be redeemed through the resurrection, and the flesh itself becomes the site of freedom to believe in Christ.

    At any rate, lest the above interpretation of verse 26 be regarded as a bit overwrought, Lehi here confirms it quite nicely: the freedom granted to human beings is the freedom to choose either life or death. If one chooses death (to remain in sin), however, something curious happens: the “fact” of the resurrection doesn’t change (“the soul can never die” Alma will say later), but one remains oriented to death. This, I take it, is what the Book of Mormon will later describe (again and again, but particularly in 2 Nephi 9) as “spiritual death,” a death that is no longer merely a question of the body, but a question of one’s dying spiritually, as always being oriented to a death that has been rendered nothing (though one can’t know that during mortality). Lehi, of course, just calls this death “captivity” and makes it clear that it is a question of Satan’s taking control, etc.

    Verses 28-30

    At the risk of being overly simplistic again, let me say that these last three verses are again the most straightforward verses in the chapter. Given everything that has been done along the way, these verses are a relatively straightforward exhortation.

  35. joespencer said

    There, I’ve finished a kind of running commentary on the chapter, one I mean only to spell out the basic logic of the chapter. I hardly think this suffices for serious work. But hopefully I’ve got some of my thinking about this chapter on the table in the meanwhile.

  36. […] Ends of the Atonement? […]

  37. RobF said

    After a short break, back to work. Feel free to join in, or if this thread has outlived its usefulness, I’ll take the work over to the wiki.

    I’m not sure I’ve gotten very far with vs.1-2. I’m still not sure what the “greatness of God” is that Jacob knows. Or how his knowing it is connected to his afflictions being consecrated for his gain. Without knowing that, I’m hesitant to continue much further.

    The only other place in the Book of Mormon where the phrase “the greatness of God” is used is in King Benjamin’s address, in Mosiah 4:11. Here Benjamin addresses his people, after they have heard the words of the Angel, and
    –have come to the knowledge of the glory of God
    –have known of his goodness
    –have tasted of his love, and
    –have received a remission of [their] sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in [their] souls

    After pointing this state of being out to his people, Benjamin then urges them to
    –always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God,
    –and [their] own nothingness,
    –and his goodness and long-suffering towards [them], unworthy creatures

    Interesting how these themes also occur in Lehi’s address to Jacob–including joy being an end(?) of the Atonement. I like how Benjamin points out that the joy and forgiveness that they get (changing the nature of their own suffering) comes about through God’s own “goodness and long-suffering”. Also talk about “nothingness”–how does that relate to Lehi’s discourse here? Unworthy creatures and creation–what connection do we find here? What of the similar connection between knowing God and being redeemed/receiving a remission of sins?

    So can Benjamin’s address help us better understand Lehi’s introductory remarks to Jacob? Is Lehi recognizing something that Benjamin would late recognize in his own people, a state of knowing the glory and love of God?

    I’d be interested in any thoughts on this before I inch forward :-)

  38. kirkcaudle said

    Joe, perhaps I missed it in one of your other posts, but who do you think the prophet mentioned in v30 refers to? Moses, Isa, other? I was hoping you would mention it in post #34. Any ideas?

    I ask because the person Lehi is getting his information from (or perhaps even quoting at times) may further influence how we read this chapter.

    Oh, and this is not just a question for Joe, anyone else can feel free to chime in also. I would be interested to know who everyone thinks this refers to and why.

    • Robert C. said

      The wording reminds me of Luke 10:42, where Christ praises Mary over Martha for choosing “that good part.” Is there somewhere in the OT that we read this kind of phrasing?

      Deut 30:19 might fit the bill: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and acursing: therefore bchoose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

      Joshua 24:15 also comes to mind (the scripture mastery, “choose you this day whom you shall serve” passage).

      Isaiah 7:15-16 uses some similar wording: “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.”

      Those seem to the most interesting passages from a fairly quick perusal of a word search for “choose” in the KJV OT at lds.org….

      • joespencer said

        Robert, I bet, if it’s anything we have, that Joshua 24:15 is the text in mind—it is cited elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. Interesting.

      • RobF said

        Check out General Relief Society President Bonnie Parkin’s 2003 talk Choosing Charity: That Good Part. She links Lehi, Mary and Martha, and Joshua…and then Moroni. Interesting. Of course, doesn’t answer the question of who “the prophet” is.

        As I was reading this over and over the last few weeks, I got the impression that “the prophet” was Isaiah, but I can’t seem to resurrect the thoughts that went along with that. I’ll have to ponder it some more…

    • joespencer said

      I have no idea whatsoever. The phrase “the good part,” which it seems is the phrase Lehi is attributing to “the prophet,” appears only here in scripture. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, except perhaps to assume that it is in the brass plates but not in the OT.

  39. Robert C. said

    RobF, great question trying to think King Benjamin’s speech vis-a-vis Lehi’s.

    King Benjamin’s speech is so obviously about grace in so many places, that the “greatness of God” line seems, in many ways, more at home in King Benjamin’s speech. These lines, after all, come just before the memorable lines about us all being beggars before God.

    But in Lehi’s speech, the theme of grace is more latent and subtle. In the immediately subsequent verses, Lehi talks about Christ and declares that “salvation is free” (“it’s not not what it seems,” I can’t help adding for some reason…!). However, afterward in Lehi’s speech, it seems there’s a more doctrinal exposition about agency and the fall and how the atonement makes us free to choose. This is rather different than King Benjamin’s emphasis which seems to be more of an exhortatory reminder of the grace of God and our own nothingness in response.

    So, why these differences? King Benjamin is giving his last discourse in a very public setting whereas Lehi is (presumably) in a more intimate family setting. Might that be part of the reason? Lehi is addressing Jacob in particular, who seems to have already been converted in a way that perhaps is not analogous to King Benjamin’s audience? We read about a kind of conversion on Mosiah 5, so perhaps there is good reason for a prophet to wax more “doctrinal” after conversion? Agency, perhaps, is more important to understand after conversion whereas grace (per se) is more important to remember before conversion, in order to effect conversion?

    Much to think about here….

  40. kirkcaudle said

    Robert #39, “Agency, perhaps, is more important to understand after conversion whereas grace (per se) is more important to remember before conversion, in order to effect conversion?”

    This seems to be opposite direction that most LDS (and even some other Christians?) take. In fact, it is opposite than what I myself have thought about the subject. We first preach about Adam and Eve having agency in the garden. We talk about the importance of agency and personal accountability. After we teach about agency then we talk about Christ coming to redeem the world by grace. From my reading, this seems to also be what Paul teaches.

    However, your comments have caused me to question that reading. Perhaps grace is the starting point more than I have seen in scripture. Perhaps even the War in Heaven should start with a discussion on grace rather than a focus on personal choice. After all, without the grace of God their is no plan in the first place.


  41. RobF said

    Robert #39, remember that Lehi taught here that “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth” (v.6) and contrasts the grace and goodness of God in the next verses with our own sinful flesh, reminding us again that “no flesh…can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (v.8). Seems pretty King Benjaminy to me here. In fact, I’ve often wondered who the angel was that delivered the message to King Benjamin. In the past I’ve thought perhaps Abinadi, since he uses so many of the same phrases. But whoever it was, the angel, Benjamin, and Abinadi seem to all be on the same page.

    But I’m a long ways from even beginning to grasp what that page is!

  42. RobF said

    I desperately want to move on to v.3, but I’m stalling because I can’t make much sense of it. However, a few thoughts:

    After Jacob is described as suffering in the past, and now knowing the greatness of God in the present, Lehi claims that Jacob, in the future, will:
    –have his afflictions consecrated for his gain

    And somehow, because of that (“wherefore”), he will also, in the future
    –have his soul blessed, and
    –dwell safely with thy brother, and
    –spend his days in the service of his God.

    I’m not sure about the connection between knowing the greatness of God and that which follows, unless Lehi is somehow talking about the blessed, secure, and service-oriented state of the redeemed. That makes sense to me on one level, so I guess I’m going with that. Though I’m still struggling to know what it means here to be redeemed.

    This seems to be the core mystery here for me. What does it mean to be redeemed? Apparently it means to know the greatness of God, which brings about a new state (that of being redeemed) which can be described the way Lehi describes Jacob?

    This seems to make sense until I get to the next phrase in v.3–
    “Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer”

    What? I’m not sure what this “wherefore” is doing here. What is it referring to? Is it pointing all the way back to Jacob’s knowing the greatness of God? And how does whatever it is referring to allow Lehi to know that Jacob is redeemed?

    And what does the “righteousness of thy Redeemer” have to do with this? Do we really need this comma here, or is it tripping me up? What does the “because” in this line mean? Does Lehi KNOW that Jacob is redeemed because of the righteousness of the Redeemer, or does Lehi know that Jacob is redeemed because of the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the Redeemer?

    And finally (yeah, right!), what does all of this have to do with the following:
    “for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh.”

    What does the “for” that leads this all of refer to? Jacob knowing? Jacob being redeemed (is that the same thing)? Is Lehi somehow saying here that Jacob’s knowing is the same as the knowing of those who will know Jesus in the flesh?

    I haven’t even started to unpack what all of that means in this last bit about fulness, salvation, ministering, and flesh…

    My head is starting to hurt…

  43. Robert C. said

    Rob, great questions. Building on your comment in #26, I wonder if we can’t make some progress thinking about the “yesterday, today and forever” as a kind of inclusio/bookend to the past, present, and future tenses of verse 2.

    Or, in a slightly different vein, perhaps we should read verses 2 and 3 chiastically as follows:

    _[PAST] Jacob, my first-born in the wilderness,

    __[PRESENT] thou knowest the greatness of God;

    ___[FUTURE] and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.

    ___[FUTURE] Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God.

    __[PRESENT] Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer;

    _[PAST] for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory;

    [EPILOGUE] wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

    If we read the passage this way, the wherefore‘s and the for take on meanings that are more structural than . . . well, logical, I suppose.

    More specifically, I wonder if the (future) “wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed” simply refers back to the fact that Jacob’s afflictions will be consecrated for his gain. And then the (present) “wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed” refers back to “thou knowest the greatness of God.”

    What do you think??

  44. RobF said

    RobertC#43’s breakdown of the past, present, and future structuring of the first few verses provides enough momentum to carry the reading of this chapter beyond this intro. We seem to be left with

    a) knowing God in the present creates a way to structure the past (afflictions become gain) and future (being redeemed and serving God).

    b) a knowledge that this pattern is eternal (the same for all yesterday, today, and tomorrow).

    Apparently, this is because “the way is prepared from the fall of man” (v.4). In this sense, can we read the fall as a creation? The fall sets up/prepares/creates the opportunity for this pattern of redemption to take place? I think we are comfortable with the thought that we need the Atonement because of the fall, but are we as comfortable with the thought that we needed the fall in order for there to be an Atonement–and even for there to be a creation (for men “to be” v.25)? As far as I can tell, according to Lehi (or at least Nephi’s account), the Fall didn’t somehow mess up creation, the Fall IS creation. I’m still not at all sure of what that might mean.

    And salvation is free
    Salvation is part of the package. It’s already done as part of the preparation. This seems to be the main point of this intro section. There’s a plan, and it leads to free salvation.

    Now Lehi seems to start going into more detail?

    Men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil(v.5).
    When and where does this happen? Is this referring to something like the Light of Christ that everyone gets in mortality? Or is it a more specific sort of instruction? I’m tempted by the apparent temple context of some of these remarks to see echoes of a ritualistic instruction in laws, perhaps in a covenant setting? Especially since we are immediately told that “the law is given unto men”. I think I’d like to read it both ways for now, but maybe I’m way off?

    What is the relationship between Law and the Fall? Wasn’t the Fall in many ways a choice to seek a knowledge of good and evil, which can only exist within the context of a given (and arbitrary?) law or standard? By choosing to live by laws we have fallen, i.e. “no flesh is justified” and we separate ourselves from the tree of life/Wisdom/Love of God, i.e. we are “ cut off,””perish from that which is good,” and “become miserable forever“.

    I’m admittedly reading a lot into this, so perhaps I should go back now and spend some more time on each of these phrases? Why does Lehi distinguish between a “temporal law” and a “spiritual law”?

    At some level I’m imagining being told that if we do not walk up to all the laws we are taught, we will be in Satan’s power. But I’m also reading here that this is in some way inevitable–“no flesh is justified”. We can’t escape Satan if we believe any claim on us that he makes by appealing to the law. Once we fall, and choose to live by law, it’s a rigged game and we become miserable forever.

    Except for what we read in v.6. the Holy Messiah, full of grace and truth, can redeem us.

    So, it seems clear that because of the Fall/Creation, we become bound by law, which can’t save us. Enter the Holy Messiah.

    Here’s hoping the rest of this chapter will help me understand what this means on more than just a superficial CTR7 level of understanding!

  45. RobF said

    As I sit here thinking more about this, I’m wondering what is the difference between the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (that we seem to have unauthorizedly taken?) and the Spirit of Christ that “is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moroni 7:16)?

  46. Robert C. said

    Rob, I’m loving your probing questions. I only have time to muse for a second on the first question you raised in comment #44 regarding the relationship of creation and the fall.

    It’s been a couple of years now since I first read Jim F.’s article “Adam and Eve—Community: Reading Genesis 2-3.” I am still working on digesting that article since it is so rich and since it delves into so many important issues in the Genesis 1-3 and in 2 Nephi 2. In fact, instead of offering my own musings right now, I’m just going to quote a few paragraphs from Jim’s article and highlight the parts that I think are particularly relevant to this idea that the fall is creation:

    8. God has called each of the previous stages of creation good, and he has said that creation as a whole is good (Genesis 1.3), but human creation is not said to be good, even though humans are part of creation as a whole. Perhaps that is because, they are good or bad only as they exercise their dominion, in being the representatives for creation before God. Perhaps they are good or bad only as they serve and preserve creation as a whole. The irony is that creation as a whole is good in that it has the possibility, through human action, of being not good. The ethical indeterminacy of human being qua human being makes the world as a whole good. Contrary to what one expects, indeterminacy is prior to determinacy.

    30. The seemingly parenthetical note of Genesis 2.24 not only shows us that human being is communal, it also prefigures the expulsion of Man and Woman from the garden: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto each his wife.” Man and Woman will be forced to leave their father and mother – in this case God – and cleave to each other: in order to be human Man and Woman must leave the divine communion of paradise to live in community with others. In other words, they must die; they must live in history. We have already seen that knowledge and death are inseparably linked (Genesis 2.16-17). It is not simply that Man and Woman have the option of remaining immortally in the garden in ignorance or leaving with knowledge to die. But—if their lives are to be meaningful, if they are to be bound to one another, if they are to be fruitful, if they are to escape the emphatic negative with which God has judged the situation of one alone, in other words, if they are to be human—they must live in community and they must do so estranged from God.

    31. Such a life in community demands both creation and action, and that requires, in turn, that Man and Woman partake of the fruit of knowledge and become subject to death. Remaining in the garden immortally—alone forever, even while they are alongside one another, alone because they have not left the mother and father and, therefore, cannot cleave to one another—would be real death. That is what must be avoided. The expulsion from the garden is, thus, not the consequence of a moral fall. It is the fulfillment of the creation of humanity. To remain would have been a fall.

    37. Now the promise that they should die in the day in which they ate the fruit is fulfilled. Though, as the serpent promised, their physical death does not occur in that day, their spiritual death does. Having been made in God’s image, having their personalities placed vis-a-vis that of God, and having lived in a world in which God could come walking in the cool of the day, Man and Woman have taken of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and must be separated from God; they must die from him. The irony is that the death that God foretold is their birth into human- and god-being. As the end of Genesis 2 explains, in order to become like God, in order to cleave to one another, Man and Woman must be separated from God. They must exist as individuals in community between themselves, and that community, though it has its base in the Divine and is created and supported by him, must occur in the mortal rather than the divine sphere.

  47. Robert C. said

    This morning I’m really stuck on this “salvation is free” phrase. Later in this same chapter, we read about being free to choose. Is there a relationship between this kind of freedom and the sense in which salvation is free? I keep waffling between thinking there must be an important relationship between these usages of free, and thinking that drawing any such connection is rather forced, moving beyond the text itself to a different (though not uninteresting) realm of poetic musing about English word usage and etymology.

    Is it better, then, to link this use of “free” to Isaiah 55:1, “he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat” which is quoted in 2 Nephi 9:50 and 26:25? I’m wondering now the extent to which Isaiah is playing with the phrasing of Deut 2:6.

    (What do we know, by the way, about the date of the Deuteronomy text? I’m thinking passages of Deut are quoted in the Book of Mormon, but I have a really bad memory for this sort of thing. Are there any publications that give an index of possible or probably OT quotations in the Book of Mormon? Are Hardy’s Reader’s Edition footnotes pretty complete? If so, maybe I’ll just compile those footnotes all together one one page at the wiki one of these days….)

  48. kirkcaudle said

    Robert, Funny you should bring up the Deuteronomy question. I just wrote a paper (which I will be presenting at a conference in June actually)that deals with the reforms of Josiah and how they connect with Joseph Smith. In the paper I show a few similarities in the coming forth of The Book of Mormon and Deuteronomy.

    Most modern scholars (19th century to the present) think Deuteronomy was written sometime around the 7th century BC. If that is true then I do not think it would be in the BOM. But maybe? It would just be cutting it very close. However, before the 19th century most scholars held to Mosaic authorship. If that is true then I def. think Deuteronomy is in the BOM.

    I think Deuteronomy is more ancient than the 7th century BC and I also think it is in the BOM. In fact, as I have stated before, I think the “prophet” Lehi is dealing with in 2 Nephi 2 is Moses himself. No prophet deals with “the law” as much as he does.

    • Jim F. said

      I highly recommend Jacques LaCoque’s essay, “The Ten Commandments” (in LaCoque and Ricoeur, Thinking Biblically). LaCoque makes a good argument that prior to the Exile Israel understood the law to be much more like wisdom than it did after the Exile, when it took the Law of Moses to be a kind of constitution. The implication (my inference, not LaCoque’s, at least not explicitly) is that if he is right, then Jesus and Paul were not introducing something new, they were restoring an older notion of law.

  49. Robert C. said

    Yeah, I definitely need to study all of this more. I studied it all a fair bit a while ago, but I’ve already forgotten much of what I learned.

    Anyway, for starters, 1 Ne 22:20 seems to quote Deut 18:15. Also, 2 Ne 11:3 quotes Deut 17:6; 19:15. Mosiah 13:33 perhaps references Deut 18:18-19.

  50. joespencer said

    John Sorenson has a piece in Dialogue from a few years ago comparing the E strand of the Penteteuch to the Book of Mormon—a rather productive little analysis in my opinion. I want to say that Dan Peterson works through some comparisons with Deuteronomy and with OT Wisdom literature (all heavily inflected by Margaret Barker’s work) in his essay “Nephi and His Asherah,” which has appeared in a few different places and is likely available on the MI website. And I swear I read something else somewhere along the way that worked carefully through the possibility of a Deuteronomic influence on BoM writers. I also agree with Jim that (Andre, not Jacques) LaCocque’s essay is a good place to start thinking about the status of the Law before the exile.

    The cross-references you find, Robert, are, I think, right on. I’m particularly interested in the 1 Nephi 22 and Mosiah 13 references, as they together form one of the major points of argument in my book. (Christ, incidentally, also takes up that same passage in Third Nephi.) There are other clear indications in Book of Mormon narrative style that point to Deuteronomic influence—some, at any rate, that I’ve picked up on in close readings of Helaman (those podcasts I did with Kim a couple years ago), mostly the Deuteronomic formulas about “walking in the ways of his father,” etc., when dealing with succession in the government. (Note that here I have reference to the Detueronomic history and not the book of Deuteronomy proper.)

    All that said, I think it is crucial to recognize that a couple of massively important things had already altered Lehite theological approaches to things by the time Lehi gave the speech recorded in 2 Nephi 2. The Book of Mormon definitely forges its own pathway….

  51. RobF said

    Just when I want to move forward on 2 Nephi 2, I find I’ve skipped over some more possibly important stuff at the beginning of the chapter.

    I’m struck right now by Lehi’s use of the term “firstborn”. That takes me to Abraham 1:2-3:

    2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

    3 It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.

    I like this linking of the concept of the “firstborn” with the rights (rites?) of the priesthood, especially in 2 Nephi 2 where Lehi is seemingly ordaining (?) Jacob as a temple priest.

    And this whole thing opens up a whole new world for me here–the world of firstborns. What is that all about? Abraham links the concept of the firstborn to Adam and first fathers, and seeks himself to be a “father of many nations”. In D&C 93:21-22 we read that those who are “begotten” through Christ become the church of the Firstborn. Seems to be ties to the patriarchal order of the priesthood here, with rights/rites to fatherhood of nations, with Adam being the “first man” OR “first father”. I like the implication here that Adam is the “first man” by virtue of his being the “first father” (i.e. the first to receive this priesthood?). Adam, Noah, and Abraham all become fathers of all nations. And we later read that even the righteous Gentiles who live in the promised land (America?) will be considered the seed of Lehi (2 Nephi 10:18-19), so he joins the ranks of first fathers too.

    Anyway, a lot to think about here, probably enough to start a whole new thread.

    In the meantime, this parallel with Abraham brings up another point here, where Lehi notes that Jacob had suffered in his childhood because of the “rudeness” of his brothers. Rudeness in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary has connotations of violence. Which screamed out at me when I was reading Abraham 1:12–

    And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar; and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record.

    We read that Laman and Lemuel had plotted to kill Lehi and Nephi. Is Lehi acknowledging that they perhaps also planned to kill Jacob? In this context of firstborns and priesthood, is he comparing the “rudeness” of Laman and Lemuel to the violence of the priests on Potiphar’s Hill?

    At any rate, Lehi (and Nephi) seem to be playing with some huge themes here that I overlooked on my first pass. Since the story of Adam plays prominently in 2 Nephi 2, it may be profitable to think through this chapter in light of these themes of rights/rites of the priesthood, firstborns, and first fathers.

  52. kirkcaudle said

    I really like the “Rudeness” connection you make Rob.

  53. RobF said

    It’s probably time to start a new thread for any continuing thoughts I have as I continue to wrestle with this chapter. But a question that I can’t seem to shake as I back up and take another look…where is Lehi’s parting counsel to Nephi? We have words to all the other sons; but where are his dying words to Nephi?

  54. robf, I wrote an exposition of 2 Ne. 2: 5-14 nearly 3 years ago, published on my blog. You may find the answers you seek there. Here is the link to the post:

    Deep Waters: Lehi’s model of the universe

    You will need a password to get in. The password is: Deep Waters

    If you have difficulty getting in with that password (some people do), instructions are found here:

    Deep Waters: Disclaimer and Password

    Hope that helps!

    • Tamu said

      I too was really confused about what this whole 2 Nephi 2 stuff was all about. I feel like I want to like that chapter a lot, but it leaves me confused.

      However, I did read the link LDSA provided above — although it took me a while to get thru it all, I feel like I have a much better grasp of it all now.

      Thanks for that link.

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