Parsing Nephi: First Nephi VI (1 Nephi 19:22 – 21:26) and VII (1 Nephi 22)

This is one of a series of posts examining apparent chapter divisions within the original Book of Mormon manuscript as they apply to Nephi’s writing — here is the introduction and here is the previous post. (The entire list can be found here.)

Longer Book of Mormon quotes here, as for the entire series, are taken from The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Royal Skousen, ed.), though links will be to the modern version.

Chapters VI and VII: Nephi Explains It All

Chapter V in Nephi’s first book on the small plates ends with the successful arrival of Lehi’s party in the promised land, Nephi’s commandment from the Lord to make the first (large) set of plates, and Nephi’s admonition “unto all the house of Israel, if it should so be that they should obtain these [plates].”

That would seem to be a good place to end the first book and start the second one — new land, new book — but Nephi adds two more chapters, bringing the total up to seven, a doubly-significant number: not just because of the perfection and completeness of the number “7” in Jewish symbolism, but because (and possibly for the same symbolic reason) Lehi’s descendants will be divided into seven tribes throughout the history of the Book of Mormon.

That the division into seven chapters may have been deliberate is strengthened by the fact that these two chapters could just have easily been one. In them, Nephi reads a portion of Isaiah (chapters 48 and 49) to his brothers, then expounds upon these chapters to his brothers. But before he does that, he gives an introduction that contains what is likely the second-most quoted statement by Nephi (after 1 Nephi 3:7):

Now it came to pass that I Nephi did teach my brethren these things.
And it came to pass that I did read many things to them
which were engraven upon the plates of brass,
that they might know concerning the doings of the Lord
in other lands among people of old.
And I did read many things unto them which were in the books of Moses.
But that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer,
wherefore I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah;
for I did liken all scriptures unto us,
that it might be for our profit and learning.

With that, Nephi then copies the indicated passage of Isaiah onto the plates, then writes down his own exposition (to his brothers) of that passage onto the plates as well; his closing remarks include the following:

Wherefore, my brethren, I would that ye should consider
that the things which have been written upon the plates of brass are true,
and they testify that a man must be obedient to the commandments of God.
Wherefore ye need not suppose that I and my father are the only ones
which have testified and also taught them.
Wherefore if ye shall be obedient to the commandments and endure to the end,
ye shall be saved at the last day.
And thus it is.

Nephi introduces for the first time (in the record we have, at least) the phrase “endure to the end”, a phrase that appears repeatedly throughout the Book of Mormon (Moroni2 quotes it near the end of his own book, a thousand years later), and which Latter-day Saints have adopted as the “fifth” principle and ordinance of the Gospel (cf. here).

Here, though, there is a personal poignancy to its use. Nephi is writing upon these plates after he and those who followed him are forced to flee into the wilderness yet again, not just dividing Lehi’s family but dealing with the threat of having his older brothers “come upon us and destroy us“.

S. Kent Brown, specifically addressing the issue of Nephi including two chapters of Isaiah within First Nephi[1], feels that — beyond Nephi’s attempt to show fulfillment of prophecy — it also was of emotional comfort to Nephi in the light of just how difficult the journey to the promised land was, the sense of being vastly removed from all they knew and loved back at Jerusalem, and the irreparable damage done to Lehi’s family structure.

With these two chapters, Nephi finishes his first book on the small plates, tracing his history — in parallel to his father Lehi’s — from Jerusalem to the shores of the promised land. He likewise traces his own personal arc from the youngest brother (at the time) to a true prophet and potential leader over this group of exiles. But he knows things are going to take a turn for the worse — he is writing all this after the flight from Laman and Lemuel — and he saves that for his next book.

Next post: Second Nephi, title and introduction.   ..bruce..

[1] “What is Isaiah Doing in First Nephi? Or, How Did Lehi’s Family Fare so Far From Home”, Chapter 2, From Jerusalem to Zarahemla, S. Kent Brown, Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, 1998.


Original Book of Mormon manuscript chapter divisions vs. the King James Bible

[Update at end of post][Plus additional notes made re: Second Nephi V and Mosiah VII and VIII]

While working on the “Parsing Nephi” series, which is an analysis of the chapter structure of the original Book of Mormon manuscripts (scribal and printer), based on Royal Skousen’s work on the Book of Mormon critical text, I was struck by the organization of extended or parallel quotations from the Old and New Testament within the Book of Mormon text.

Nephi quotes two chapters of Isaiah in First Nephi. In Second Nephi, Jacob quotes two chapters of Isaiah (with the first two verses from a third), after which Nephi quotes thirteen more chapters of Isaiah, then later gives an interpretive reading of yet another one. Similarly, when the Savior appears to the Nephites after His resurrection, He gives a sermon that closely parallels the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7, then later quotes one chapter out of Isaiah and two chapters out of Malachi.

Critics (and even some supporters) of the Book of Mormon often claim that Joseph Smith simply copied (or read out loud to his scribes) chapters from the King James Version into the Book of Mormon manuscript. However, there is no historical or physical manuscript evidence of that happening (all credible historical evidence is, in fact, to the contrary); beyond that, there are meaningful textual variants from the KJV[1] in most of the chapters quoted.

(As a side note, critics also like to characterize this inclusion as “wholesale copying” of “large sections of the Bible”. In truth, it’s only 25 chapters out of nearly 1,200 chapters in the Bible, and 20 of those chapters are from a single book: Isaiah.)

In the modern (1879 and later) LDS editions of the Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon chapter divisions always correspond on a one-to-one basis to the King James Version chapter divisions (with the exception of tacking Isaiah 52:1-2 onto the end of Isaiah 51). This admittedly does lend itself to the appearance of direct copying.

However, in the original and printer manuscripts (and the first edition) of the Book of Mormon, it is never the case that any single chapter from the KJV corresponds to a single chapter within the Book of Mormon. Thus we have:

  • First Nephi VI: Introductory text, followed by Isaiah 48 & 49
  • Second Nephi V: The first part of Jacob’s sermon (which includes a cite from Isaiah 49:23), followed by Isaiah 49:24 through 52:2 (note that this does not even  follow the KJV chapter divisions)
  • Second Nephi VIII: Nephi’s wrap-up of Jacob’s sermon, followed by Isaiah 2 through 5
  • Second Nephi IX: Isaiah 6 through 12
  • Second Nephi X: Isaiah 13 and 14
  • Second Nephi XI: Nephi’s prophecies of the gathering of Israel at the last days, followed by an interpretive reading of Isaiah 29
  • Second Nephi XII: More of Nephi’s prophecies of the last days, with a repeated quotation of Isaiah 11:4-9
  • Mosiah VII: King Noah begins his reign; Abinidi preaches before King Noah and his priests — the priests ask a question about Isaiah 52:7-10;  Abinidi, in turns, asks them about the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; also see Deuteronomy 5:6-14).
  • Mosiah VIII: Abinidi continues to preach before King Noah and his priests — after stating how the Law of Moses is a type and shadow of the Messiah, he quotes Isaiah 53, then expounds on the Messiah at length
  • Third Nephi V: The Savior appears to the people at Bountiful and begins — after a series of interactions with the people — the Sermon at the Temple, corresponding to Matthew 5 through 6:24
  • Third Nephi VI: The Sermon at the Temple continues, corresponding to Matthew 6:25 through Matthew 7
  • Third Nephi X: The Savior talks about His efforts to establish His Gospel among the Gentiles at the last day; He quotes Isaiah 54; and then He chides the people for the things they have failed to record in their own scriptures.
  • Third Nephi XI: A brief introductory verse (3 Nephi 23:14); Malachi 3 and 4 (with more introductory text appended to the start of Malachi 3); and a follow-up description of the Savior expounding the scriptures (3 Nephi 26:1-5).

In sum, the chapter divisions within the original Book of Mormon manuscripts and the 1830 edition provide no support for simple dictation from the King James Version and, if anything, argue against it.

UPDATE [same day]: I couldn’t believe that I was the first person to make this observation, so I dropped a note to Royal Skousen, asking for prior references. He graciously replied and pointed me to his own article, “Textual Variants in the Isaiah Quotations in the Book of Mormon”, found on pages 369-390 of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon (Perry & Welch, eds., FARMS, 1998).  Specifically, his “Third Finding” on pages 378-379 is that “The original Book of Mormon chapter divisions of the Isaiah quotations follow a larger thematic grouping, not the interruptive chapter system found in the King James Bible.” He makes the same general observations and has a table that corresponds to the bullet list above for First and Second Nephi.

[1] “Isaiah in the Bible and the Book of Mormon”, John A. Tvedtnes, FARMS Review: Volume – 16, Issue – 2 (2004), Pages: 161-72.

Parsing Nephi: First Nephi V (1 Nephi 16 – 19:21)

This is one of a series of posts examining apparent chapter divisions within the original Book of Mormon manuscript as they apply to Nephi’s writing — here is the introduction and here is the previous post. (The entire list can be found here.)

Longer Book of Mormon quotes here, as for the entire series, are taken from The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Royal Skousen, ed.), though links will be to the modern version.

As mentioned previously, Nephi makes a couple of references about these (small) plates discussing his “reign and ministry”. Last week, we saw what appeared to be the start of Nephi’s ministry; this week, we’ll see the start of Nephi’s reign, though perhaps a more modest “reign” than we might imagine. I’ll note here that while Nephi says he is writing about his “reign”, he seem very uncomfortable with the title of “king” (cf. 2 Nephi 5:18), probably because of his readings in the brass plates (cf. 1 Samuel 8:4-9).

Chapter V: The 2nd Exodus, with Nephi As Moses

First Nephi IV was a relatively short chapter, both in length and in chronology, most of which was about Nephi acting as a prophet and spiritual leader to his brothers, largely in the space of two conversations. By contrast, First Nephi V is quite a long chapter. It covers nearly eight years of time and most of their journey, from the time that Lehi’s party leaves their first camp in the valley of Lemuel until they arrive in the Americas. It comprises a series of set pieces underscoring Nephi’s growing leadership of this group, as his brothers rebel and even his father falters, both spiritually and physically.

More than anything else, Chapter V is about Nephi  setting forth parallels with the story of Moses leading Israel across water and through wilderness to the promised land, with Nephi largely in the role of Moses. This is, of course, a long-established observation about Nephi’s writings, and one that has been covered repeatedly by better and more knowledgeable scholars than I. What is interesting, though, is to see how much of this is packed into a single chapter, namely this one.

One of the earliest and best articles on the parallels between Nephi’s account and the Exodus led by Moses out of Egypt is “Nephi and the Exodus” by Terrence L. Szink, printed in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon (Sorenson & Thorne (eds.), Deseret Book/FARMS, 1991, pp. 38-51). After noting Nephi’s frequent overt references to Moses and the Exodus, Szink draws the following parallels in Nephi’s own account — all of which, by the way, appear in Chapter V (the titles are Szink’s):

  • “The Voice of Murmuring in the Wildnerness”: not just the act of murmuring itself, but also that a specific instance was tied to lack of food, which was subsequently provided with divine help.
  • “Reasonable Fears and Foolish Desires”: the respective wandering groups fearing death in the wilderness and wishing to return to their prior lives — even though it meant slavery in Egypt and death or captivity back in Jerusalem.
  • “The Liahona and the Serpent”: in both cases, a bronze object that yielded miraculous results, yet that at times was ignored “because of the simpleness of the way” of using it.
  • “Lead, Kindly Light”: the stricture that the Lord would lead them through the wilderness; in Nephi’s case, with the Lord explicitly saying, “I will also be your light in the wilderness and will prepare the way before you.”
  • “High on a Mountaintop”: Moses ascending Sinai, and Nephi ascending the mountain at Bountiful, both times to receive divine instructions on leading their respective parties, and in particular detailed instructions on constructing a physical object (the ship and the Tabernacle) that would be essential to the group’s on-going progress.
  • “Nephi’s Powerful Sermon”: both Nephi and Moses coming down from the mountaintop encounter with God with great power, such that the members of their respective parties feared to approach them.
  • “Two Parties, Too Wild”: the celebrations and orgies surrounding the golden calf, and the dancing and singing “with much rudeness” on board the ship, with the threat of divine destruction and death following each.

Finally, here are a few additional thoughts of my own.

Appearance of a Divine Artifact Containing Commandments from God

The brass ball, or compass, is the third of three tangible objects (the others being Laban’s sword and the brass plates) that will be a source of contention between the Nephites and Lamanites and that likely will lead to the Lamanite traditions of the Nephites being robbers (cf. Alma 20:13). Unlike the first two, however, it was not taken from Jerusalem but miraculously appears outside Lehi’s tent and marks the start of the rest of the journey. Indeed, it appears that it was essential for that journey and may well have come in answer to Lehi’s prayer as to where to go next.

While Tzink rightly compares the brass ball to the brazen serpent, I think there is also a valid comparison to be made between the ball and the stone tablets containing the Decalogue. Both have miraculous writing direct from God, though that on the ball changes “from time to time” (1 Nephi 16:29). And in both cases, the artifact travels with the party and remains as a memorial of the time in the wilderness.

Over the course of Chapter V, three usages of the ball document an apparent transfer of authority from Lehi to Nephi:

  • At first, Lehi (by implication) is using it to find “whither we should go in the wilderness.”
  • When the food crisis hits, and even Lehi murmurs, Nephi asks his father to seek guidance from the Lord; part of that comes via the ball, and Nephi follows those directions to find food.
  • On the ocean voyage, when Nephi is bound, the compass “did cease to work”; Lehi, by implication, is unable to make it work, though it sounds as though Lehi may have been incapacitated by a combination of old age and seasickness. It is only after Nephi is freed that the compass once again works.

The big difference, of course, is that the ball — unlike the stone tablets containing the Decalogue — is not gained by ascent to a mountain where God’s presence resides; instead, it appears outside Lehi’s tent one morning. However, that in itself is still miraculous, since the ball was “of curious workmanship” and “of fine brass”, and yet there were no facilities for making such a device there in the wilderness; note that when Nephi breaks his steel bow, he is forced to craft a new one from wood. It is not until Lehi’s party reaches Bountiful several years later that Nephi is able to find and refine some iron ore for tools.

Prolonged Wandering in the Wilderness

One of the most pointed asides in all of scripture is found at the start of Deuteronomy (emphasis mine):

(There are eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea.)

And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them

The point being, of course, that it took the Israelites 40 years to cover a distance that could be traveled in a few weeks. In much the same way, Nephi follows the story of rebellion and threatened patricide — even though followed by divine intervention and repentance — with a terse account of long and difficult wanderings in the wilderness:

And it came to pass that we did again take our journey [from Nahom] in the wilderness.
And we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth.
And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness,
and our women bare children in the wilderness.
And so great was the blessing of the Lord upon us
that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness,
our women did give plenty of suck for the children and were strong,
yea, even like unto the men.
And they began to bear their journeyings without murmuring.

And we did sojourn for the space of many years,
yea, even eight years in the wilderness.

Just as Deuteronomy notes that it’s only an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-Barnea, an examination of a map shows that the distance from the apparent location of Nahom to any of the proposed locations for Bountiful is on the order of 700 miles (with the total trip from Jerusalem to Bountiful being on the order of 2000 miles). Even at a modest 8 to 10 miles/day, that’s only about three months’ worth of travel to cover 700 miles, yet it took Lehi and his party something approaching eight (8) years to make it to Bountiful (Nephi’s comment above leaves it unclear as to whether the “eight years” is the time from leaving Jerusalem, from leaving the valley of Lemuel, or from leaving Nahom).

Nephi documents one case in this chapter when, while crossing the “great waters”, the ball stops working due to Laman and Lemuel’s rebellion. But there were apparently other times during the entire journey when the ball stopped working; as Alma2 says to his son Helaman1:

Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means
— nevertheless it did shew unto them marvelous works —
they were slothful and forgat to exercise their faith and diligence.
And then those marvelous works ceased,
and they did not progress in their journey.
Therefore they tarried in the wilderness,
or did not travel a direct course,
and were afflicted with hunger and thirst because of their transgression.

It could be that Alma2 is referring to the “broken bow” incident that Nephi chronicles in this chapter, but he seems to be describing something more significant than that. My suspicion is that the (lost) book of Lehi contained a lot more details about the journey to Bountiful, particularly from Nahom to Bountiful. As noted above, Nephi covers that part of the trip in just a few lines.

S. Kent Brown makes a credible argument that Lehi and his party may have passed much of that time in servitude to a local tribe somewhere in that wilderness in exchange for food and/or protection.[1] If that is the case, then Nephi may have avoided discussing that directly, since it would undermine the Exodus parallels to have Lehi’s party going into slavery (as it were) rather than escaping from it.

Arrival in the Promised Land After Crossing Water, with Promised Blessings and Cursings

While Tzink notes the parallels between Moses parting the Red/Reed Sea and Nephi leading his family over the intervening ocean via ship, I believe there is another parallel as well, namely that of the children of Israel crossing the Jordan River into the promised land. In both cases, the Lord promises blessings to those who keep His commandments and cursings to the point of destruction for those who do not.

Nephi concludes this chapter by recounting the making of the ‘large’ plates, as well as a foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah — the same future “prophet” that Moses spoke of. He ends with his own testimony of the scriptures, including those which he himself has now written:

And I Nephi have written these things unto my people
that perhaps I might persuade them
that they would remember the Lord their Redeemer.
Wherefore I speak unto all the house of Israel,
if it so be that they should obtain these things.
For behold, I have workings in the spirit which doth weary me,
even that all my joints are weak,
for they which are at Jerusalem.
For had not the Lord been merciful
to shew unto me concerning them
even as he had prophets of old —
for he surely did shew unto prophets of old all things concerning them.
And also he did shew unto many concerning us;
wherefore it must needs bet hat we know concerning them,
for they are written upon the plates of brass.

Next post: Nephi starts quoting Isaiah.

[1] “Sojourn, Dwell, and Stay: Terms of Servitude”, Chapter 4 in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla, S. Kent Brown (Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1998).

Musings on the Book of Mormon

Since the Book of Mormon is the topic of study this year, I thought I would list here Book of Mormon-related posts I’ve made over the past four+ years, in hopes that some find them useful in studies or teaching. Some of these posts — specifically, the “Parsing Nephi” and “Book of Mormon REPO Atlas” — represent works in progress (though in the latter case, something I haven’t worked on for a few years; got to get back to that).

I will add links as I continue to write Book of Mormon-related posts and have created a separate page for this as well. I also reserve the right to go back and edit the posts, both for grammatical reasons and to reflect subsequent thoughts I might have on the subject. Comments, as always, are welcome. ..bruce..



1st Nephi & 2nd Nephi

The “Parsing Nephi” series (still in progress):

Other posts


Enos/Jarom/Omni/Words of Mormon




[none so far]

3 Nephi

4 Nephi




[none so far]


Mormons: Perceptions and Politics

This transcript of a panel discussion — with a large set of (for me, at least) fascinating slides — is well worth reading. It not only deals with Mormon attitudes on various key political issues, it also deals with how others view Mormons as well (in a political context). I particularly found this slide interesting:

Here’s the discussion around the slide:

DR. CAMPBELL: On the Faith Matters Survey we asked a question about civil liberties. We asked people to make a choice. Do they think it was more important to protect civil liberties or was it more important to protect personal security? And so on this question you would expect conservatives and Republicans to be more likely to favor safety over civil liberties, but actually among Mormons you find exactly the opposite. Mormons are actually more likely to take the civil liberties side of that question than they are the safety and security side.

PARTICIPANT: How was that question asked exactly?

DR. CAMPBELL: People had two choices and two choices only. So we forced them to make a tradeoff. The way it was worded was personal security versus civil liberties, and the lead-in to the question made a reference to terrorism so that we wanted them to be thinking about the debates over homeland security and such.

I’m reminded of Orson Scott Card’s comment in Saintspeak: The Mormon Dictionary:

Johnston’s Army An expensive military expedition sent in 1857 to quell a Mormon rebellion that wasn’t taking place. Ever since, Mormons have suspected that the federal government was not their friend.

There is a libertarian undercurrent among US Mormons, mostly because they want the US government to leave them alone. ..bruce..

Archuleta announces plans to serve mission

Here’s the story (in the Hollywood Reporter, no less):

Slightly overwhelmed with emotion and fighting back tears, Archie, as he’s affectionately known, explained to an audience of over 2,000 at Abravanel Hall why he felt a two-year mission was his calling at this juncture in his life. “It’s not because someone told me I was supposed to do it and not because I no longer want to do music anymore,” he said. “It’s because it’s what I feel I need to do next in my life. It’s the same feeling that I’ve always tried to follow in my life — the feeling that’s allowed me to have the opportunities I’ve had, the challenges and the blessings, too. And I’ve learned to trust that feeling and answer when it calls. That’s the reason why I know I have to do this in my life. ”

Good for him, all the more so because there is no guarantee he’ll have much of a music career waiting for him when he returns. (Yes, there are those who will argue he doesn’t have much of one now, but, hey, he is on tour, isn’t he?) Plus, it’s hard to think of a better innoculation against the unrealities and distortions of the showbiz industry than two years of hearing about the real problems of ordinary people.

Parsing Nephi: First Nephi IV (1 Nephi 15)

Here’s the introduction to this series, and here is the previous entry.

Book of Mormon quotes here, as for the entire series, is taken from The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Royal Skousen, ed.).

This is the first (though far from the last) time that Orson Pratt’s chapter division matches that found in the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon (and, as explained in the first post, apparent chapter divisions indicated as Joseph dictated the contents of the Book of Mormon). This is also quite a bit shorter than Nephi’s first three chapters, which suggest that there may be thematic reasons this chapter stands alone.

Nephi Starts His Ministry

Nephi has at the start of his first three chapters referred either explicitly or implicitly to his “ministry”. His own subtitle for this book, found in the introduction just before Chapter I, is “His reign and ministry”. At the start of Chapter II (1 Nephi 6), Nephi states that “the fullness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob and be saved.” And at the start of Chapter III (1 Nephi 10), he writes “And now I Nephi proceed to give an account on these plates of my proceedings and my reign and ministry” — but then goes own largely to describe his father’s prophesies of the Messiah and his own ascension vision.

With that vision, Nephi now appears confident in instructing his brothers in a prophetic manner — not just bearing testimony or asking why they don’t listen to Lehi, but offering his own prophetic interpretations and directions. In fact, that’s what the entire chapter is about: Nephi explaining not just Lehi’s vision and prophecies, but his own vision and prophecies as well, as well as his interpretations of the scriptures. He is ministering in a prophetic fashion to his brothers, and they (by his account) accept that prophetic ministry, however briefly. As Nephi notes near the start of this chapter:

And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren,
and they were disputing one with another
concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them.
For he truly spake many great things unto them
which was hard to be understood
save a man should inquire of the Lord.
And they being hard in their hearts,
therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they had ought.

Nephi steps in, asks what they are arguing about, asks if they have “inquired of the Lord”, rebukes them for “the hardness of [their] hearts”, and then proceeds to explain Lehi’s vision and prophecies to them. He notes that he has success where his father did not:

And it came to pass that I did speak so many words unto my brethren
that they were pacified and did humble themselves before the Lord.

He also urges them to personal obedience and righteousness:

Wherefore I Nephi did exhort them to give heed unto the word of the Lord.
Yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul
and with all the faculty which I possessed
that they would give heed to the word of God
and remember to keep his commandments always in all things.

Now his brothers start asking more questions, not just interpreting Lehi’s vision but expounding on details that Lehi missed:

And they said unto me:
What meaneth the river of water which our father saw?
And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness.
And so much was his mind swallowed up in other things
that he beheld not the filthiness of the water.

This continues on for a while; then Nephi wraps up with a Q&A session that presages Alma2‘s discourse to his son Corianton about the afterlife, judgment, and eternity, tying at the end of the chapter the whole discussion back to his and his father’s visions:

Wherefore the wicked are separated from the righteous
and also from that tree of life
whose fruit is most precious and most desirable of all other fruits;
yea, and it is the greatest of all the gifts of God.

And thus I spake unto my brethren.

Through these first four chapters of the Book of Nephi, Nephi has been tracing his own arc. He starts as the youngest (and therefore least important) of four sons, one who cries unto the Lord to have his own heart softened so that he does not “rebel against” his father Lehi. He now stands as a prophet who has great visions and who — with temporary success — calls his older brothers to repentance and from whom his brothers seek spiritual and scriptural explanations. Keep in mind that Nephi is writing all this some 30+ years later, after arriving in the promised land, and after the great family split — that is, Nephi and those who would follow them fleeing for their lives from Laman and Lemuel. He writes these chapters, I believe, to bear testimony to the descendants of Laman and Lemuel as to how things really were.

Next post: First Nephi V (1 Nephi 16 – 19:21).


A poem for Thanksgiving

No, not by me. I ran across this poem in a back issue (August 1972) of the Ensign while serving a mission in Central America (72-74). It impressed me so much — while I was working in the midst of true third-world poverty — that I wrote it inside my leatherbound copy of Gospel Doctrine (Joseph F. Smith). I dig it out and re-read it probably once a year or so.


I never know I was without —
The richness of my mother’s love
So wrapped me roundabout.
The sifting snow upon my bed,
The warm shawl tied around my head,
The clumsy shoes, the awkward dress —
There was no sense of more or less.
The well-thumbed books, the Bible’s lore,
The simple food from frugal store —
A child can seldom have a choice.
How rich I was — never without
My mother’s arms, my father’s voice!

— Inez George Gridley (The Ensign, August 1972)

A quick search online turned up Inez’s obituary from 2005 (scroll down):

Inez George Gridley, writer teacher, historian, died Monday, October 10, 2005 at Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris, N.Y. She was 97.

Born February 25, 1908 at Red Hill, Ulster County, Daughter of Andrew and Juliana Hanford George. . . .

She was a published writer of poetry and history and had co-authored several books on history including Brass Buttons & Leather Boots and Time & the Valley. Her books of poetry in print included Journey from Red Hill and Pitfalls & Promises, which was written when she was 92. She was Town of Neversink Historian for 16 years. She began writing poetry as a young woman and co-founded the Alchemy Club, which has nurtured poets from the 1930s to the present. Her poetry was published in many national magazines and newspapers throughout the years, including the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune and the Saturday Evening Post.

Her community involvement included being one of the original group that was instrumental in the fight to bring a high school to Grahamsville. She was the first District Clerk for that school which is now called the Tri Valley Central School. She also was one of the founders of the Townsman, the volunteer community newspaper which still serves the Tri-Valley area. She was a teacher whose first school was a one-room school at Greenville, Ulster County. Her last school was the Tri Valley Central School, where she taught elementary school. While still teaching, she was named Delta Kappa Gamma, a national honor society for teachers.

She touched my life nearly 40 years ago with a single poem. I can only imagine the countless lives she affected elsewhere.  ..bruce..