Just saving a spot again.
My last post was—my apologies anew!—too long, too philosophical, and too speculative, all at once. Let me see if I can’t be a bit more down to earth—and a bit briefer!—this time around. I’ll just offer a kind of brief (and rather rambly) interpretation of the passage. At any rate, here’s the text:
Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught. Wherefore, there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes—and also the power and the mercy and the justice of God. And 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. And if there is no God, we are not, neither the earth—for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act, nor to be acted upon. Wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
Let me begin with a number of textual issues, all of which I’ll try to handle quickly. I’ll present these as a series of questions and (possible) answers. Continue reading
Just saving a spot, for now.
2 Nephi 2:11 – Opposition
Well, I’ve written another ridiculously long post. My apologies in advance.
We come, at last, to what’s arguably the most philosophical passage in the whole Book of Mormon: Lehi’s claims about opposition. Here’s the text:
For it must needs be that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness—neither happiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one. Wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life, neither death, nor corruption, nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
Even to get started on discussion, it seems to me, there are any number of preliminary considerations to be addressed. Feel free, of course, to skip past these, but be warned that I’ll be assuming what I “establish” in this first part of the post. Continue reading
7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit—and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. 8a Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth! That they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God save it be through the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah
The idea of Christ answering the law is significant—he is responding to a question, a demand
“unto none else can the ends of the law be answered”—the preposition “unto” is strange here: why not use the word “by”? What does it mean to say the law is answered unto Christ, rather than by Christ? Continue reading
We’ve ended up with a rather rich discussion of the opening of 2 Nephi 2. Let me see if I can’t distill from it a few of the most salient points. Continue reading
It’s time, at long last, to get this discussion started. We’re tackling only the first two-and-a-half verses of text this week, but that will be enough to keep us more than busy, I think. Here is the text we’re dealing with this week, with my own punctuation (note that there are no textual variants to be bothered about in these verses):
 And now, Jacob, I speak unto you. Thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness, and, behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow because of the rudeness of thy brethren.  Nevertheless Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God, and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.  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.
The first two of our four guiding questions seem to be focused heavily on these first verses. If we’re to get a sense of the immediate setting of 2 Nephi 2, or of its reliance on other scriptural texts, it’d be best to look for answers in assessing these first verses of the chapter. Further, if we’re serious about the question of audience, as well as about how the details of Jacob’s life bear on the interpretation of 2 Nephi 2, we’ve got to keep an eye on these first verses. Also interesting to me are some details from these first verses that might help us begin to answer our third question. As I hope to show, there’s a significant question of textual structure in these first verses that should give us serious theological food for thought. Only the fourth question will have to wait for further attention.
What follows, then, comes in three parts. In the first, I’ll say a few things about how these first verses help to situate 2 Nephi 2 within scripture rather generally. In the second, I’ll see if I can’t illuminate something about audience, as well as about the interpretive relevance of Jacob’s past. In the third, finally, I’ll identify an important structure in these first verses and say a bit about what it suggests theologically. Continue reading
January 7–12 (2 Nephi 2:1–3a) – JOE
January 14–19 (2 Nephi 2:3b–4) – JENNY
January 21–26 (2 Nephi 2:5–6) – JOHN
January 28 – February 2 (2 Nephi 2:7-8a) – DEIDRE
February 4–9 (2 Nephi 2:8b–9) – JENNY
February 11–16 (2 Nephi 2:10) – SHEILA
February 18–23 (2 Nephi 2:11) – JOE
February 25 – March 2 (2 Nephi 2:12–13) – JOE
March 4–9 (2 Nephi 2:14–16) – RICO
March 11–16 (2 Nephi 2:17–18) – JENNY
March 18–23 (2 Nephi 2:19–21) – RICO
March 25–30 (2 Nephi 2:22–24) – DEIDRE
April 1–6 (2 Nephi 2:25–27) – JOHN
April 8–13 (2 Nephi 2:28–30) – JENNY
Welcome to “Lehi’s Discourse: Reading 2 Nephi 2,” a project sponsored by the Mormon Theology Seminar and held concurrently with another project investigating Genesis 2-3. We’ll soon be posting both our guiding questions and a schedule for when we’ll be working through what parts of 2 Nephi 2 collectively.
A quick apology to those reading along: due to the nature of the project, only participants in the seminar are allowed to comment on the blog. Feel free, though, to contact us by other means with thoughts, or to blog about them elsewhere!