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BYU Studies Quarterly Vol. 56 (2017)
Gregory Steven Dundas offers a detailed reading of governmental forms in the Book of Mormon in the context of other ancient civilizations. He makes the case that democracy was almost unknown in the ancient world and that nearly all people assumed that kingship was the best form of government. This makes King Mosiah’s decision to implement a form of democracy (elected judges) among the Nephites a significant aberration. Dundas also argues convincingly that, contrary to what moderns might assume, this early form of democracy did not fare very well. As soon as the system of judges was in place, significant and repeated challenges to it arose and eventually resulted in the collapse of this particular form of government.
The Bible describes a bifurcated world in which God bids, commands, and teaches the people he has created to follow him in the way of righteousness, and in which the devil leads people into wickedness. This way of seeing things surfaces explicitly in various texts and is known among scholars as the Doctrine of the Two Ways. While the same teaching has been noticed in the Book of Mormon, there is as yet no study that examines the Book of Mormon presentations systematically to identify the ways in which they might follow any of the ancient versions of the Two Ways doctrine, or the ways in which these might feature original formulations. In this article, Noel Reynolds shows that the Book of Mormon writers did retain most elements of the earliest biblical teaching, but with enriched understandings and original formulations of the Doctrine of the Two Ways in their prophetic teachings. He documents twelve exemplary passages in the Book of Mormon that explicitly refer to two paths or ways and assesses the extent to which these follow or vary from each other or from Jewish and Christian models.