1 Nephi 13 tweet: N sees GaAC + Gentiles. GaAC corrupts Bible, Gentiles stumble. Words of N’s seed 2 come 4th 2 establish truth of Bible. Last 1st, 1st last.
In this post I’ll wrap up the last few verses of 1 Ne 13 (see the last post for the context for this post).
Following the destruction of his people, the dwindling in unbelief of the seed of his brethren, the establishment of the Gentiles in the land of promise but ultimately their stumbling due to a corrupted (or at least incomplete) book, finally Nephi sees the coming forth of another record that will counteract this stumbling and is key to the renewing of the covenant made with Israel through the establishment of a remnant.
Interestingly, both Grant Hardy and Joe Spencer suggest that at this point in his life (i.e. as he was engraving an account of his vision), Nephi didn’t realise that the record he saw coming forth was the record he himself was making. Concerning v35, Hardy says:
From the perspective of the readers, the angel is obviously speaking of the Book of Mormon, but Nephi, at this point, gives no indication that he recognizes the visionary volume as including a history that he himself would someday compose.1
And Joe Spencer says:
Interestingly, Nephi doesn’t seem to learn for quite some time – and only after he’s nearly finished writing his record – that he himself is writing what will become the first part of this prophesised book.2
There are a few other interesting things to highlight from the conclusion of this chapter. Firstly, there’s an interesting – and presumably important – shift in whose speaking in these verses. For the most part, this vision has been a dialogue between Nephi and the angel. But in verses 33–36 we find the phrase “saith the Lamb”, i.e. the angel quotes the Lamb. Why do you think the words of the Lamb himself are introduced at this stage of the vision? It seems to me that up to this point, all that Nephi has seen has been a vision of future events, and for the most part tragic events. But here, where we hear the actual words of the Lamb, we are in essence hearing the Lord’s promises (or covenants) to latter-day Israel. Consider especially the lines that begin with “I will…” in v33–35. These are promises spoken by the Lord himself. Remember, one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is that the remnant of Israel may know the covenants of the Lord (see the Title Page and here). I think that may be why there is a shift from the Nephi-angel dialogue to the actual words of the Lord.
As something of an aside, it’s worth noting that almost all references in the Book of Mormon to the Lamb of God occur in Nephi’s vision (there are 39 references in the Book of Mormon to the Lamb of God and all but three of them are in the writings of Nephi and most are in 1 Ne 10–14). Why do you think Nephi uses this title for the Lord so much in describing his vision? Julie Smith suggest the following possible meanings for the Lamb of God:
- Passover lamb (see Exodus 12)
- sacrificial lamb (see Exodus 29:38–46)
- suffering servant of God (see Isaiah 53)
- destroys all evil in the last days (Revelation 7:17, 17:14)3
Concerning the remnant of the house of Israel, it is a subject that is referenced in the Title Page and then introduced for the first time in this chapter. I won’t say much except to quote Joe Spencer:
[Nephi has] seen the decimation of the covenant people (the Lamanites specifically), so that what’s been left behind is finally being called not “the seed of thy brethren,” etc., but “the remnant of the house of Israel.” Further, he’s now seeing the possibility of that remnant being graced with a sealed record … that will open up the possibility of constructing the covenant people anew. And, still further, he’s also seeing that the Gentiles will themselves be involved in the emergence of the text that could bind them into the covenant and allow for a deeper universalization of the covenant that had before been limited in scope.2
That’s deep stuff but ultimately important for us to grasp if we are to appreciate the purpose of the Book of Mormon and the role we are to play in its continued coming forth.
Finally, to conclude this post, some poetic parallelism in the last few verses of the chapter (verses 39–42):3
A – unto the convincing of the Gentiles
B – and also the Jews
C – all the face of the earth
D – establish the truth
E – the twelve apostles of the Lamb
F – shall make known the plain and precious things…shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people
G – the Lamb of God
H – all men must come unto him
H’ – And they must come
G’ – by the mouth of the Lamb
F’ – the words of the Lamb shall be made known
E’ – the twelve apostles of the Lamb
D’ – established in one
C’ – over all the earth…all nations
B’ – both unto the Jews
A’ – and also unto the Gentiles
Notice that at the heart of this chiastic structure is the idea that we must come unto Him. Also, immediately following it we find the archetypical chiasm (and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last), almost as if to underline or draw attention to the longer structure in the preceding verses.
Next week’s reading: 1 Nephi 14
- Grant Hardy. Understanding the Book of Mormon