The Book of Mormon and the Temple

The Book of Mormon and the Temple April 9, 2021


Teichert's Waters of Mormon
“Alma Baptizes in the Waters of Mormon” by Minerva Teichert (1888-1976)
Wikimedia Commons public domain image




Two new items appeared today in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:


Val Larsen, “Josiah to Zoram to Sherem to Jarom and the Big Little Book of Omni”

Abstract: The first 450 years of Nephite history are dominated by two main threads: the ethno-political tension between Nephites and Lamanites and religious tension between adherents of rival theologies. These rival Nephite theologies are a Mantic theology that affirms the existence of Christ and a Sophic theology that denies Christ. The origin of both narrative threads lies in the Old World: the first in conflicts between Nephi and Laman, the second in Lehi’s rejection of King Josiah’s theological and political reforms. This article focuses on these interrelated conflicts. It suggests that Zoram, Laman, Lemuel, Sherem, and the Zeniffites were Deuteronomist followers of Josiah. The small plates give an account of how their Deuteronomist theology gradually supplanted the gospel of Christ. As the small plates close, their last author, Amaleki, artfully confronts his readers with a life-defining choice: having read the Book of Mormon thus far, will you remain, metaphorically, with the prophets in Zarahemla and embrace the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, or will you return to the land of Nephi and the theology you believed and the life you lived before you read the Book of Mormon?


Steven L. Olsen, “Much More than a Reader: The Latest in Chiastic Studies for Interested Scholars and Lay Readers Alike”

Review of Chiasmus: The State of the Art, edited by John W. Welch and Donald W. Parry (Provo, UT: BYU Studies and Book of Mormon Central, 2020). 358 pages. $24.68, paperback.

Abstract: This collection of essays represents the latest scholarship on chiasmus. They were selected from papers delivered at an academic conference at Brigham Young University in 2017. Articles reflect both “the state of the art” and the state of the technique in chiastic studies.




I don’t believe that I had ever paid any real attention to Mr. Jonathan Neville until I was told that he had been repeatedly attacking the Interpreter Foundation and me, personally.  I still don’t read his blogs or his books.


I’m just not interested in Heartlander theories.  Truth be told, I’m not overly interested in questions of Book of Mormon geography at all.  That is to say, I have opinions — I’m comfortably inclined toward a limited Mesoamerican model, although I’m not wedded to it — but I’ve seldom if ever written on the subject.  (Which, by the way, leaves me puzzled as to why I’ve become a principal whipping boy for Mr. Neville, who seems to be obsessed by Book of Mormon geography in general and the location of the Nephite Cumorah in particular.)


Once I noticed Mr. Neville’s propensity to demonize those who don’t share his geographical theories, however, I began to realize that he poses a very unfortunate potential threat to the peace and unity of the Saints.  And his curiously urgent need to attack me over and over again has also been brought to my attention.  I’ve learned approximately everything I know about him from the invaluable Neville-Neville Land blog, which follows his writing pretty closely and quotes him extensively.


His attacks on me and on the Interpreter Foundation continue:


“The identity of Peter Pan, and other issues Jonathan Neville is wrong about”


By the way, my wife and I saw the newly-released Benedict Cumberbatch film The Courier last night.  It was excellent.  But it does make me think that Mr. Neville may have exaggerated just a tiny bit when he suggested that I enforce my “M2C dogma” like an old Soviet commissar.  Among other seemingly significant differences that might be mentioned, I don’t wield the coercive power of the state, I don’t own a prison, I don’t run a system of death camps, I don’t maintain a staff of secret police, I don’t threaten dissidents with guns, I’m not secretly deploying nuclear weapons, and I don’t starve or kill or even torture people.


Incidentally too, although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the estimable “Peter Pan” is somebody with whom I’m acquainted, I don’t know his (or her) identity, and I have absolutely no connection with the Neville-Neville Land blog.




Finally, as I’ve recently been doing, I share with you links to a few articles previously published in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:


Paul Y. Hoskisson, “Was Joseph Smith Smarter Than the Average Fourth Year Hebrew Student? Finding a Restoration-Significant Hebraism in Book of Mormon Isaiah”

Abstract: The brass plates version of Isaiah 2:2, as contained in 2 Nephi 12:2, contains a small difference, not attested in any other pre-1830 Isaiah witness, that not only helps clarify the meaning but also ties the verse to events of the Restoration. The change does so by introducing a Hebraism that would have been impossible for Joseph Smith, the Prophet, to have produced on his own.


Morgan Deane, “A Vital Resource for Understanding LDS Perspectives on War”

Review of Duane Boyce, Even Unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective on War (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2015). 312 pp., including appendices and index. $29.95.

Abstract: Even Unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective of War by Duane Boyce is a thorough and engrossing philosophical discussion describing the failure of secular and spiritual pacifism. Boyce provides a detailed summary of secular views regarding just war and pacifism, and systematic rebuttals of almost every major pacifist thinker in LDS thought. The text is far more brief describing the LDS theory of just war, but remains an essential resource for creating that theory.


Matthew L. Bowen, ““He Is a Good Man”: The Fulfillment of Helaman 5:6-7 in Helaman 8:7 and 11:18-19”

Abstract: Mormon, as an author and editor, was concerned to show the fulfillment of earlier Nephite prophecy when such fulfillment occurred. Mormon took care to show that Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, fulfilled their father’s prophetic and paranetic expectations regarding them as enshrined in their given names — the names of their “first parents.” It had been “said and also written” (Helaman 5:6-7) that Nephi’s and Lehi’s namesakes were “good” in 1 Nephi 1:1. Using onomastic play on the meaning of “Nephi,” Mormon demonstrates in Helaman 8:7 that it also came to be said and written of Nephi the son of Helaman that he was “good.” Moreover, Mormon shows Nephi that his brother Lehi was “not a whit behind him” in this regard (Helaman 11:19). During their lifetimes — i.e., during the time of the fulfillment of Mosiah’s forewarning regarding societal and political corruption (see Mosiah 29:27) that especially included secret combinations — Nephi and Lehi stood firm against increasingly popular organized evil.


Stephen O. Smoot, “Vanquishing the Mormon Menace”

A review of Mason, Patrick Q. The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. pp. 252 + xi, including notes and index. $31.95.

Abstract: Patrick Mason has offered a fascinating look at the history of nineteenth century anti-Mormonism in the American South with his 2011 volume The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South. Situating nineteenth century Southern anti-Mormonism in its historical context, Mason narrates a vivid account of how Mormons at times faced violent opposition that stemmed from deep cultural, religious, and political differences with mainstream American Protestants. Mason’s volume is an excellent resource for those interested in Mormon history.


Julie J. Nichols, “A Modern View of Ancient Temple Worship”

Review of Matthew S. Brown, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Stephen D. Ricks, and John S. Thompson, eds., Ancient Temple Worship: Proceedings of the Expound Symposium 14 May 2011 (Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation/Eborn Books, 2014). 293pp., $24.95 (hardcover)

Abstract: This well-produced, noteworthy volume adds to the growing number of resources available to help make more meaningful the complex and historically rich experience of the temple.


Matthew L. Bowen, “Nephi’s Good Inclusio”

Abstract: As John Gee noted two decades ago, Nephi is best explained as a form of the Egyptian word nfr, which by Lehi’s time was pronounced neh-feenay-fee, or nou-fee. Since this word means “good,” “goodly,” “fine,” or “fair,” I subsequently posited several possible examples of wordplay on the name Nephi in the Book of Mormon, including Nephi’s own autobiographical introduction (1 Nephi 1:1: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents … having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God”). It should be further pointed out, however, that Nephi also concludes his personal writings on the small plates using the terms “good” and “goodness of God.” This terminological bracketing constitutes a literary device, used anciently, called inclusio or an envelope figure. Nephi’s literary emphasis on “good” and “goodness” not only befits his personal name, but fulfills the Lord’s commandment, “thou shalt engraven many things … which are good in my sight” (2 Nephi 5:30), a command which also plays on the name Nephi. Nephi’s autobiographical introduction and conclusion proved enormously influential on subsequent writers who modeled autobiographical and narrative biographical introductions on 1 Nephi 1:1-2 and based sermons — especially concluding sermons — on Nephi’s “good” conclusion in 2 Nephi 33. An emphasis in all these sermons is that all “good”/“goodness” ultimately has its source in God and Christ.


TB Spackman, “Understanding Genesis and the Temple”

Review of John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2009). 192 pp. $9.85.

Abstract: Genesis 1 meant something very particular to the Israelites in their time and place. However, because that contextual knowledge was lost to us for thousands of years, we tend to misread it. Walton offers an interpretation of Genesis 1 that juxtaposes it with temple concepts, simultaneously allaying some of the scientific issues involved.


TB Spackman, “The Old Testament and Presuppositions”

Review of Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation- Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, Second ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015). 197 pp. $19.99.

Abstract: Peter Enns identifies three problematic assumptions Evangelicals make when reading the Old Testament. LDS readers tend to share these assumptions, and Enns’ solutions work equally well for them.



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