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Book of Mormon
482 pp. Transcripts of 29 lectures.
Hugh Nibley is one of the best-known and most highly revered of Latter-day Saint scholars. For over forty years this near-legendary teacher has enthralled his readers and listeners with his encyclopedic knowledge
An introduction to Hugh Nibley’s Teachings of the Book of Mormon class.
There are certain things about the Book of Mormon that we must notice at the beginning to get off on the right foot. . . . The opening of the Book of Mormon concerns our people, and it concerns also our world. To start, this lecture looks at the biographical nature of 1 Nephi and moves on to Nephi’s heritage and legacy.
Also called “Geopolitics and the Rule of Tyrants, 600 B.C.“
There is nothing more rmarkable about the Book of Mormon than its cultural history. It is loaded with details that give us an insight into the culture of a particular people. It describes three distinct cultures, and it describes them vividly. A look into why 600 B.C. is considered by historians to be the “pivotal year“ and what that means for the Book of Mormon.
One thing to make a hort remark about is the evidence for the Book of Mormon. They talk so much about archaeological evidence that always comes up where the Book of Mormon is mentioned. If you want proof of the Book of Mormon, you must go to the Old World. You won’t find it in the New World.
Also called “Insights from Lehi’s Contemporaries: Solon and Jeremiah.“
Lehi and his great contemporaries started a lot of chain reactions. We don’t mention them just because they were interesting curiosities, or anything like that, but because we are still living on their capital.
Also called “Souvenirs from Lehi’s Jerusalem.“
Lehi had full baggage. Remember, his people were especially prepared to transfer the culture from one world to the other. We want to find out first what happened to Jeremiah because that’s very much in the story of Lehi. The reason we are bringing this up is that there are some marvelous documents that have appeared “out of the blue“ right from Lehi’s day.
Also called “The Days of King Zedekiah: ’There Came Many Prophets.’“
Nephi has the four qualities that Matthew Arnold attributes to Homer. The Book of Mormon has them; I don’t know anything else that has them. If you were to be asked, “What is the significance of the Lachish Letters for the Book of Mormon?“ They are immensely important.
Let’s review quickly the first book of Nephi.
Also called “In the Wilderness.“
The Book of Mormon is a handbook; it’s everything. It’s all in there, far more than you think.
Also called “The Book of Mormon and the Dead Sea Scrolls.“
Now we are going to talk about the Book of Mormon and the Jews in the light of the new discoveries (the Dead Sea Scrolls).
A discussion about the Tree of Life.
We were noting that chapter ten of 1 Nephi deals with the Jaws. Chapter eleven does something else. Chapter twelve deals with the New World version: Israel in the New World, the Book of Mormon people. Chapter thirteen deals with the Gentiles and the whole world; it takes the world view.
Also called “The Liahona and Murmurings in the Wilderness.“
We start out with the last place to look if we want to find information. It starts out, “I returned to the tent of my father.“
Now, we’ve got the seventeenth chapter, the seventh verse, when the Lord says, you will make a boat: “Thou shalt construct a ship.“ He didn’t have time to scout around for the necessary metals. The Lord told him, I can tell you where to get them. We said they were adept in ores: where to find ores, and how to make the bellows.
Also called “’Encircled . . . in the Arms of His Love’: Oneness with God and the Atonement.“
We start out with 2 Nephi, and we really get into some pretty deep stuff.
We are on the second chapter of 2 Nephi, perhaps the hardest chapter in the book. It’s about the Law of Moses.
Also called “Lehi’s Family: Blessings and Conflict.“
2 Nephi 3 is a genealogical chapter, and it has strange phenomena in it which occur in genealogy all the time.
Also called “Jacob’s Teachings on the Atonement and Judgment.“
The Book of Mormon was hand-delivered by an angel. There’s every evidence that it was, so let’s look at it.
We have come to those chapters where Nephi talks about Isaiah. He gives his explanation in chapter 25, and that’s what interests us.
Now, Nephi is in his prophetic vein, and he is going to take us all the way.
We are on 2 Nephi 29. The Lord is talking about when He sets His hand again in these last days the second time to recover His people. There are no “God’s privileged people.“ He loves one as much as the other.
Also called “Rejecting the Word of God.“
We are on 2 Nephi 32, and are things going downhill fast. Here’s the first generation that has already gone bad, and Nephi is just terribly depressed. He ends on a down note, and then his brother Jacob takes it up.
We’re on the book of Jacob. I’ve decided that more than any book in the Book of Mormon this has the ring of absolute truth, historical and everything else.
Also called “The Olive Tree; The Challenge of Sherem.“
In the fourth chapter of Jacob he rings the gong in verses 13 and 14. What he is talking about here is absolutely basic. Notice that verse 13 is one philosophy of life, and verse 14 is the other philosophy of life.
Also called “The Struggle of Enos.“
Enos is an important book. It’s just one chapter, you notice, but what a chapter!
Also called “The End of the Small Plates; The Coronation of Mosiah.“
Well, now we’ve got to the point where in one verse they take care of the history of a larger people than the Nephites. It simply says they crossed the ocean and landed here, and that was that.
What we have here is a very good lesson on the subject of fear and trembling.
King Benjamin’s speech and why it’s important, part 1.
473 pp. Transcripts of 27 lectures.
Hugh Nibley is one of the best-known and most highly revered of Latter-day Saint scholars. For over forty years this near-legendary teacher has enthralled his readers and listeners with his encyclopedic knowledge, his wit, and his untiring research in defense of Latter-day Saint beliefs. Now you can join Dr. Nibley in the second of four Honors Book of Mormon classes that he taught at BYU during 1988–90. Part two contains twenty-seven lectures focusing on Mosiah 6 through Alma 41. It is vintage Nibley, with his insights, humor, and passionate convictions, discussing a book that he loves and knows so well.
Also called “Kingship; Covenants.“
A discussion about Mosiah 6 and what it has to do with Mosiah’s kingship and the covenants the Nephites made after King Benjamin’s speech.
Also called “Stable Civilizations; The Search for the Lost Colony.“
We come to chapter 7 now. The Book of Mormon tells us things we don’t like to be told. If it told us only what we wanted to hear, of course, we wouldn’t need it. But that’s the only part of the scriptures we are willing to accept. Well, here we go.
Also called “Ammon and Limhi; The Record of Zeniff.“
We are on chapter 8 of Mosiah, and it is absolutely staggering what’s in here. We can’t stop for everything, but nevertheless it’s jammed in here.
Also called “War and Defenses.“
We are on Mosiah 10:8, and things begin to happen that have a familiar ring. They try again here. Zeniff sent out his spies, and [the Lamanite king] is watchful and doesn’t miss a thing. This attack doesn’t go so well, but notice the situation and how they do it.
Also called “Abinadi’s Message.“
We are on chapter 12 of Mosiah where Abinadi comes among them. He gains entrance in disguise, and once in the midst of them, he throws off the disguise. That is a common device of the prophets.
Also called “The Fulness of the Gospel; Human Nature.“
We are told that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel. That has often been challenged. Does it have everything in it? Well, what is the gospel? What is a fullness of the gospel?
Also called “Abinadi and Alma.“
Now with Mosiah 17 comes a series of extremely interesting and significant stories. He really pours it on here. After Abinadi gave his sermon, what was the reaction? “The king commanded that the priests should take him and cause that he should be put to death.” And it’s very obvious why.
Also called “King Noah; The Daughters of the Lamanites.“
King Noah is one of the most clearly drawn characters in the Book Mormon. He is drawn as a great artist would do it, by what he does and not by what he says. It’s very subtle throughout the Book of Mormon here.
Also called “Dealing with Enemies; Kingship.“
We are on chapters 20 and 21 of Mosiah, on the important subject of how to deal with an enemy in just about every situation that comes up. It’s marvelous how these things are analyzed here. You get the impression that it really was carefully edited.
Also called “Amulon and Alma.“
Now we come to one of the most satisfying parts of the Book of Mormon. This is what historiography should be. It’s full of drama, personality, and all sorts of things.
Also called “Believers and Apostates.“
Mosiah 26 is an enormously important chapter, and the first verse is very impressive. Well, the first thing we notice is the tremendous speed with which things move in the Book of Mormon. This generation was alive in the time of King Benjamin, and all that has happened. It impresses one how much has happened in how short a time.
Also called “Alma’s Conversion; Mosiah’s Translating.“
Now this story about Alma’s conversion and confrontation with the angel is immensely important. It’s as important as anything in the Book of Mormon, and it’s directly applicable to us. These things concern us very closely. The issue to be decided is this: Which world shall we take seriously? What kind of name will we give the real one?
Also called “Treatise on Power; Priestcraft.“
We are in Mosiah 29:34 where he is talking about the king. These chapters are a magnificent treatise on power; that’s the thesis here. You won’t find a better one anywhere.
Also called “Escapes; Wealth.“
Who does the escaping? and from what?
Also called “Alma and Amlici.“
Things had been going very bad with the church because of Nehor, who had taken all the people away. They all thought they were the true church. Nehor did, and Alma did, too. A man by the name of Amlici thought he could “cash in” on the Nehor movement. He wanted to go all the way, become extreme right wing, and make himself king. So we have two factions facing each other.
Also called “From Prosperity and Peace to Pride and Power; The Atonement.“
In the fifth year of the reign of the judges all that fighting and terrible stuff happened. Now we are in the sixth year, and everything is going pretty well. In the sixth year there were no contentions, for once. Of course there were no contentions; they were suffering too much from the setback in the wars.
Also called “Rededication and Restitution; The Atonement.“
Now here’s the situation we have in Alma 5. Both Alma and his father had been having a constant struggle, as you know, to keep the Nephites in the path of duty. They were always drifting away, as Israel does. Could the two Almas be to blame? Were they too severe?
Also called “Good and Evil; Foretelling Christ’s Birth.“
Now we’re on that long fifth chapter of Alma. In verse 53 he gets specific on something. You’ll notice in verses 40 to 43 he talks in general terms about evil and good. Verse 40: “For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil [well, what is he talking about?]. . . . I speak in the energy of my soul.” Here he’s specific; he tells what he’s talking about in verse 53: “Can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts [now this is when he talks specifically about being evil]; yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches?”
Also called “Zeezrom and Lawyers.“
Alma 10 is the legalistic chapter. It’s on legalism and lawyers. It packs a real wallop and shows immense insight.
Also called “The Plan of Salvation.“
Alma 12 is perhaps the hardest chapter in the Book of Mormon. It’s the one that separates us farthest from the world. We are talking about free will, Adam’s fall, etc.
Also called “Alma, Amulek, and Zeezrom; Ammon among the Lamanites.“
The hardest test of all is holding back. It’s not blowing up or doing violence. This is where the Latter-day Saints historically have been repeatedly tested and stood up to the test very well. The times they didn’t go to war were the times they always won. Then the other times when they blew their tops, it was not so good. Alma is being tested here in the jail to the breaking point.
Also called “War; Ammon and King Lamoni.“
You may ask why we are getting stuck on this trivial episode about the waters of Sebus, but it’s a very important part of the Book of Mormon, and a very important part of warfare.
Also called “King Lamoni.“
We’re on Alma 19. These chapters that follow have a number of unusual things happening in them. But in other ages these things were not so unusual; they were sort of routine. These things sound quite fantastic in the Book of Mormon.
Also called “War.“
We have a long way to go, but there are some things that are much too important to miss. What we want to get now, just to begin with, is this general situation that seems so confused—this confused situation of battles, etc., in these chapters following Alma 22.
Also called “Alma and Korihor.“
Now, if there ever were authentic and inspired passages in the Book of Mormon it’s these chapters we have come to in Alma. We really have something there. Nothing in the whole wide spectrum covered by the Book of Mormon is more significant than what is laid out in Alma 30–35.
Also called “Mission to the Zoramites.“
The Book of Mormon doesn’t dabble around, as historical romances and things like that do. It’s really to the “nitty gritty.” In this chapter 34, Alma is speaking to the other Zoramites.
Also called “Alma Addresses His Sons.“
Now we have come to Alma’s addresses to his three sons. Each is a very different character.
360 pp. Transcripts of 29 lectures.
Hugh Nibley is one of the best-known and most highly revered of Latter-day Saint scholars. For over forty years, this near-legendary teacher has enthralled his readers and listeners with his encyclopedic knowledge, his wit, and his untiring research in defense of Latter-day Saint beliefs. Now you can join Dr. Nibley in the third of four Honors Book of Mormon classes that he taught at BYU during 1988–90. Part three contains twenty-nine lectures focusing on Alma 45 through 3 Nephi 20. It is vintage Nibley, with his insights, humor, and passionate convictions, discussing a book that he loves and knows so well.
Also called “Periodic Extinctions.“
Well, we obviously are living at the end of an age when things are going to change. We have to do something about it. What’s the handbook? What do we do? I panic when I read things like this. One answer comes—the Book of Mormon. You may think that’s a paradox, but it isn’t. We’ll see what the Book of Mormon is going to tell us.
Also called “A Review of Book of Mormon Themes.“
I thought that since we are going to begin with Alma 46 and since I have not been looking especially at the Book of Mormon all summer, and neither have you, a review might be in order.
Also called “Book of Mormon Themes; Apostasy.“
We were talking about these recurrent themes in the Book of Mormon.
Also called “The Title of Liberty; The Dead Sea Scrolls; The Flag of Kawe.“
We are on Alma 46. I said it before and I say it again. If this was all Joseph Smith ever left us, it would be very powerful evidence to his being a true prophet. It starts out on a theme that has become painfully obvious today.
Also called “Evidence of the Authenticity of the Book of Mormon.“
The prodigality of Alma 46 leaves my poor old noggin bemused. I don’t know how to handle it. I made a list last night of sixteen points of evidence it brings out, any one of which would be enough to write a book about. Just now before the class a question occurred to me, and it is very important for us to answer it here. Is our main interest here proving the Book of Mormon? No. What is our main interest in the Book of Mormon? Learning more about its message.
Also called “The Garment of Joseph; Religious Brotherhoods.“
We were talking about the battles and the scrolls. We are told in Alma 46:20 that Moroni waves his banner and summons the people to maintain this title upon the land, entering into a covenant with the Lord. They make a covenant, and they not only come under the banner but they also sign their names. They sign all their names.
Also called “Religious Brotherhoods; The World (Babylon); Nomadic Warlords.“
In Alma 47 it becomes clear that there are different kinds of civilizations we are dealing with. We said last time that there are four different kinds. Why should there be four? Throughout the world—down at Lincoln Beach and all over South America, North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa you will find petroglyphs, and the commonest of all petroglyphs is this. That’s the quadrata. What do you think this stands for? It’s the sign of the cosmos. How do you think the most primitive people would be aware of the fact that it should be divided into no less than four parts? Those people are aware of it being on the earth because they look at the sky. What do you learn from the sky? In what direction does the sun rise? The sun goes down in the west and it comes up again in the east. Everybody notices that, you know. But today you’ll notice an interesting thing.
Also called “Tragedy and Suffering in the Scriptures.“
Now we are on chapter 47 and some interesting phenomena emerge. You think everything will be an anticlimax after 46, don’t you? Well, you’re wrong. There are no anticlimaxes in the Book of Mormon, at least not many of them.
Also called “Warfare; World War II Memories.“
Now we have chapter 48. Do you think this going to be a letdown? This is on another subject, and it’s a “dilly.” It’s on war. Why do we have to bother about that? We’re beyond that sort of barbarism today, aren’t we? Well, I think I can save trouble by reading the introduction to a section on war.
Also called “Abraham; Clausewitz’s Rules of War; World War II Memories.“
You’re perfectly free to read the Book of Mormon anytime you want to, as fast as you want to. That’s not the idea. I’m pointing out a few things which you would overlook, which you wouldn’t see. These are important things, I think. I know you’ve overlooked them, because I’ve overlooked them for sixty years.
Also called “Clausewitz’s Rules of War.“
We ask why dwell on the savagery of ancient wars, of all things, in this enlightened age? The answer is because we haven’t changed one bit. It’s exactly as it was before. I came out by the same door wherein I went. This is one of the great lessons of the Book of Mormon—that we don’t improve, we don’t get any better at all. Today most men are as dense as they have ever been, and no matter how far back you go in time, you’ll find people just as enlightened as any alive today. The picture never changes; the balance never changes. That’s a sweeping statement, but it’s true.
Also called “Clausewitz’s Rules of War; World War II Memories.“
“I don’t want to get morbidly engaged with this military stuff, but it has got me quite excited. We were talking about the “fog of war.” The main reason is that the Book of Mormon sets this forth so beautifully, so clearly, so succinctly. One hundred and seventy pages is quite an essay on war, but it
treats every aspect. It doesn’t leave anything untouched and it’s marvelous. Everything is in context. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see this.“
Also called “World War II Memories.“
Well, the major earthquake on October 17, 1989, shows us certainly that things can get rough in this enlightened age. Of course, later on the Book of Mormon has a great deal to say about that sort of happening. Now we are dealing with the war sort of happening. We don’t want to linger on it too long, though the Book of Mormon, we notice, spends a lot of time on it. There’s a reason for that. As I said, we can read the Book of Mormon anytime, but there are some things that must be pointed out here.
Also called “The Prevalence of Warfare.“
What kind of religious book is this that goes on telling us who moved where and what forces go where? Why the purely technical side? Well, these are the games men play, and there’s a purpose for putting them in here. Why these games? Is this to be the nature of our probation, waging battle?
Also called “Formal Rules of Warfare.“
What does the word paradox come from? What does it mean? We use the word a lot. It has a double meaning.
Also called “Bar Kochba.“
What we’re supposed to do is read the Book of Mormon, isn’t it? So we are doing it. Wait a minute. Are we stuck in the mud of an eternal battlefield here? It looks that way, doesn’t it? I’m trying to break loose. I jumped the gun last time in my eagerness to bring it to a close, but this is a very important part, how wars close.
Also called “Book of Mormon Names.“
The plot thickens now as we get closer and closer to home. We are in Alma 62. Of course, Moroni was very, very glad and relieved to receive Pahoran’s letter. I wonder if he felt cheap or something when he found out he had been completely wrong after all the shouting, raving, and ranting against Pahoran. His heart was filled with exceedingly great joy to find out that he wasn’t a traitor, as he thought he was. He really jumped the gun that time. But at the same time “he did also mourn exceedingly.” Moroni is something of a manic-depressive, isn’t he? He’s an overachiever, he’s a military genius, and he only lives a very short life. He just wears himself out, I think. He’s that sort of person. We get these beautiful character delineations in the Book of Mormon. We learn that things are often wrong with the world, but [we should] be careful how we place the blame. We don’t want to do things like that.
Also called “Geography and Ecology.“
We’re in the first chapter of Helaman, and we’ve just come to Coriantumr’s exploit where he marched right into Zarahemla. The reason he could do it is because there was so much social unrest in Zarahemla. This Coriantumr was the leader, and he was appointed leader by the son of Ammoron who was the brother of that rascal Amalickiah. Tubaloth is a nephew of Amalickiah, and he was put in charge of things, but he put Coriantumr in charge.
Also called “Apostasy; The Gospel and World Religions.“
We begin with Helaman 3:30: “And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” To sit down—it uses that a number of times in the Book of Mormon. Remember, you’re invited to go into the tent and sit down—have place with us. What he’s talking about is the old Mosaic law, which was abolished after Lehi left Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed. It was never the same after that. These people were familiar with the old custom—that going in and sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is very important.
Also called “Crime; Secret Societies; Egyptian Mythology on the Origin of the World.“
We are on the sixth chapter of Helaman now. It is one of those epoch chapters; it’s like chapter 46 and others. If this was all we had of the Book of Mormon, it would be enough to attest to its authenticity right down to the ground. This is a chapter on crime. It starts out happily and then suddenly things go sour.
Also called “Modern Wickedness; Cain and the Origin of Secret Combinations.“
The Nephites were getting rich so they didn’t need wars anymore. They were rather happy about it. With riches of the world they hadn’t been stirred up to bloodshed nationally, so they got rich and were stirred up to private bloodshed. Their wars are lowered to a private level now. They are going to start doing that sort of thing, and then we get our prime time, as I mentioned before. “. . . to commit secret murders, and to rob and to plunder, that they might get gain.”
Also called “Great Rulers in History.“
In the sixth chapter the Nephites have gotten wicked again. Remember, the Lamanites wiped out the Gadiantons simply by preaching the gospel to them. That may seem extravagant to us. But the Nephites went on getting more and more wicked, and then see what happened. Why did they do this? Because they didn’t work at being righteous. You have to fast and pray and things like that. The Lord had blessed them, and this is the reason. They liked prosperity.
Also called “The Hopi Indians; The Druze; Wisdom Literature; The Copper Scroll; The Chilam Balam.
When the Aztecs came to the valley of Mexico, and I quote, “their cities’ need for firewood was already denuding the valley of Mexico of trees. An epic famine . . .” We are going to have an epic famine here today, aren’t we—great famines and deforestation? What we find is steadily advancing drought in these chapters of Helaman; it’s very clearly indicated. All the clues are there, and they all fit together so beautifully, like this one: “An epic famine in the year one of the rabbit decimated the Mexican people. Their empire might well have fallen before they could employ the arts of the wheel or the bronze.” We don’t know about these other things. But how about these merchants going around when they got prosperous? They learned a thing or two from the Nephites, started to make money, and got rich. Does that mean they had to be wicked?
Also called “The Hopelessness in Wickedness; The Twelve Apostles at Far West, Missouri, April 1838.“
Now, we’re beginning to learn a lesson that these Book of Mormon people were having a hard time learning—that things do change. It’s not always going to be the same. They thought it was, you know.
Also called “Rhetoric.“
Now the standard explanation today of all this misunderstanding that’s been going on between the Nephites, the Lamanites, the Zoramites, the Gadiantons, and all the rest of them—we would say piously is a lack of communication, wouldn’t we? They certainly aren’t communicating, and so we have a masterpiece of communication. This third chapter of 3 Nephi is the great letter. It’s really a lesson in communications. It’s typical of the official communique of our day. It’s smooth, it’s convincing, it’s conciliatory—and it’s totally false, as we’ll soon find.
Also called “Byzantine Civilizations and Zion; Secret Combinations.“
Well, we’re in the sixth chapter of 3 Nephi, and everybody says at this point, “Well, this is where I came in. You mean we’ve got to go through this again?” As it starts out, you notice everything is lovely at the beginning.
Also called “Great Catastrophes.“
Why do we go into such detail about the earthquake and storm? Well, it’s very accurate; it describes a typical one. But there’s a point to all this—a point to showing that all nature, all the earth, is in tremendous uproar. This is going to be followed by more uproar, and then suddenly comes the voice of the Lord. But first we have to see that the earth is dependent on him.
Also called “The Lord Teaches His People.“
Notice what happens. The Savior comes to them. If you were writing this, it would be the biggest challenge of all when you came to the big climax—the Lord finally comes. Now what does he do? What does he say? Does he just repeat the New Testament? Well, he does and a lot more too.
Also called “The Joy of the Lord’s Visit
We should notice some things here, such as the theme of the other sheep in 3 Nephi 16. Notice, suddenly it broadens out immensely. The other sheep all must be considered. Every individual in the whole world is going to get the full treatment. Here we see the earth from space, as one world, in this 16th chapter here, with all these other tribes. Then why is Israel so small in that case?
287 pp. Transcripts of 27 lectures with 5 lectures by John W. Welch.
Hugh Nibley is one of the best-known and most highly revered of Latter-day Saint scholars. For over forty years this near-legendary teacher has enthralled his readers and listeners with his encyclopedic knowledge, his wit, and his untiring research in defense of Latter-day Saint beliefs. Now you can join Dr. Nibley in the last of four Honors Book of Mormon classes that he taught at BYU during 1988–90. Part four covers 3 Nephi 6 through Moroni 10. It is vintage Nibley, with his insights, humor, and passionate convictions, discussing a book that he loves and knows so well.
Also called “The Horse in the Americas; War and Prosperity.“
Why is 3 Nephi 6:1 a good place to begin a story? It ends one phase; it ends the war. It’s the end of an epic, and we begin a new phase.
Also called “Style of Writing in the Book of Mormon; Pride, Gain, and Power.“
To start out I should ask a question. What do you notice in the first two verses of 3 Nephi 6? What do they have in common? What particular stylistic use do you find in the opening sentences of these two verses?
Also called “Government; Families and Tribes.“
A strange thing has happened, you see, very disturbing. Everything was going so well. They’d come through a terrible time; then everything was going too well. It all “came up roses”; everything was happy. Then we’re told in 3 Nephi 6:5 that things couldn’t be better. There was nothing to keep them from being completely happy. There were no economic, social, or any other kinds of problems except in themselves—that was the only trouble. And almost immediately things started going bad. It tells us the cause of it was what? We’ve already seen that. But in that case, what do you do? Isn’t that a remarkable parallel to things now?
Also called “Conversion; Signs and Destruction.“
3 Nephi 7:14 talks about the splinter groups that always take place. You’re always going to find them, and they’re characteristic. This is the way it happens. You notice how rich this verse is.
Also called “Destruction and Blessings.“
Now we’re really getting in over our heads here. This chapter nine is pretty deep stuff. See, the Lord in the aretalogy tells us that he’s been doing all the destroying that’s been going on here. But first of all, what is the theme of the Book of Mormon? The theme of the Book of Mormon is, of course, salvation in Jesus Christ. But what is its historical message? What is its particular message to us? Remember, Parley P. Pratt wrote A Voice of Warning about the Book of Mormon. What’s it warning us against?
Also called “The Early Christians; The FIve Gospels.“
The whole Book of Mormon is centered on one focal point, isn’t it? It’s like a burning glass centered with ferocious concentration on one single point. What is there in chapters 9 and 10 of 3 Nephi that points that out? One little word keeps hammering away, repeating and repeating. The whole Book of Mormon is just centered on one person, isn’t it? And who is that? Christ.
Also called “Resurrection; The Forty-Day Ministry; Reality.“
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts show what remarkable fact about the resurrection toward which everybody had looked forward, which was to be the great climax of human history? When it actually happened, what was the reaction of most people to it, including members of the Church and apostles? Did they say, “Hooray, hooray, it has happened at last?” When somebody told them about it, what did they say? You’d expect them to be dancing in the streets.
Also called “Physical and Spiritual Bodies; Anthropism.“
There’s a difference between being naughty and being vicious and rancorous. It goes back to this marvelous idea we have in 3 Nephi. To the Christian world, Adam’s fall was the sin. There was everything nasty and vile that followed it. The world had become so nasty, corrupt, and decayed that Christians decided that having a body means being vile. You don’t have to, you know.
Also called “Christ’s Ministry and Teachings.“
This sixth chapter—isn’t it something? Didn’t it just knock you off the Christmas tree? What’s the remarkable thing about it? I think it’s the most powerful editorial for us in the whole Book of Mormon, probably. I say that about every chapter, but this one really does it. This one covers all the ground. You’ll notice it starts out with a model society. They’ve been through a long war and suffered terribly. They return as a model society. They reform very wisely. They rehabilitate the enemy and all this sort of thing and begin immense prosperity. And then they start becoming spoiled. Then business becomes everything, and they’re divided into classes. Then, lo and behold, you get a secret government, the lawyers take over, and everything collapses. That’s the sixth chapter—what a marvelous cycle! It’s probably the most condensed cycle. Is it the story of American capitalism? Well, read it carefully; it’s very condensed. There’s an awful lot in it, but the next chapter does just like it. And what is the result of that?
Also called “Christ’s Membership; Christ’s Ministry.“
The editor of a Catholic journal told me in a letter that Joseph Smith was merely repeating the New Testament in 3 Nephi—it’s just the same old story. Well, what would you say to that? What did Jesus Christ say about that? He explained why he was telling them those things, and what did he say? Remember, he said, these are the same things which I taught the Jews in Jerusalem. Now, here’s the question. Would you expect him to teach something different?
Also called “Resurrection; The Forty-Day Ministry; Blessing the Children.“
The apostles made lost writings, a lot of them, and they are very rich. I notice that I cite fifty to a hundred of them here in this article, just dealing with the resurrection, that were not known or published in Joseph Smith’s day. Why do you think they weren’t widely published by the Christian world? They are the oldest writings we have, incidentally. The oldest Christian writings we have nearly all talk about the resurrection and nearly all have the heading “The Things Which the Lord Taught the Disciples in Secret after the Resurrection.” Why didn’t the Christian world preserve them? Well, it did—under cover.
Also called “The Sermon at the Temple; Law and Covenant.“
We all know the Sermon on the Mount—that’s Matthew 5–7. The Sermon at the Temple is in 3 Nephi 11–18. It is a monumental text. It is one of those texts that acts as a “Grand Central Station,” a switchboard through which almost everything else in the Book of Mormon sooner or later will pass.
Also called “Christ at the Nephite Temple.“
Turn your attention to the content of the message of Jesus in the first part of the Sermon at the Temple. This is a sobering, deeply spiritual experience that the Nephites there at the temple in Bountiful were blessed to participate in. I am always humbled whenever I approach this text. As King Benjamin said, these texts are here that we can relive the experiences that those people were blessed to experience.
Also called “The Beatitudes; Christ’s Teachings.“
We continue our probing and developing of the hypothesis that the Sermon at the Temple provides us with temple-rich material which when viewed in a covenant-making context takes on new and important meanings and significance. I would like to continue to test this hypothesis in terms of looking at each of the elements in the text to see if they can be understood in this way.
Also called “Sacrament Prayers; Implications of the Sermon at the Temple.“
Finishing up the last few elements in the Sermon at the Temple and considering some implications.
Also called “Understanding the Sermon at the Temple; Zion Society.“
It seems that there are wide-ranging implications for our lives and for our understanding of the Book of Mormon, other scripture, the temple, and a lot of other things as a result of our understanding of the Sermon at the Temple.
Also called “Zion Society.“
Every book in the Book of Mormon is the most marvelous in the world, but this is really something. They’re all like this, but this is a particularly important book. Of course, I’m referring to that miraculous work, 4 Nephi.
Also called “Prayer; Peace; Prosperity.“
A continuation of the previous lecture on 4 Nephi.
Also called “Church Growth and Decline; Mormon Leads the Nephites.“
We’re following the sad declension by which the earthly paradise in 4 Nephi declined into the type of living hell which we find in many part of the world today. this is one of the most valuable texts we have in the world. There’s nothing like it. It shows us step by step exactly how it happens.
Also called “Conflicts between the Nephites and Lamanites.“
From now on we really plunge into the depths.
Also called “Wickedness in War.“
The whole book of Mormon is a haunting book. It can’t leave you alone. The questions are, are the Nephites stubbornly bent on doing the wrong thing? What is this everlasting harping on repentance? What is the wickedness that the Nephites must repent of?
Also called “Extinction of Moroni’s People; Roman Satire; Spiritual Gifts.“
Here you’ll notice Moroni takes up the story. He picks up the record at his father’s command and takes over the record at this time. This has all happened after Cumorah. This is about A.D. 401, so this is fifteen years after Cumorah. He writes the rest of Mormon’s book.
Also called “The Book of Mormon and the Ruins.“
You can’t be neutral about the word fo the Lord. You can’t laugh it off exactly, and you can’t argue with it and get angry. No, just despise it. We don’t even consider that stuff. The only way you can reject it is to despise it.
Also called “The Epic Literature of the Book of Ether.“
Ether left his tracks in the sand, but it was the brother of Jared that left most of them.
Also called “Struggle for Power.“
Everybody was moving around. (The first few minutes of this lecture were not recorded.)
Also called “The Boats of the Jaredites.“
In cartoons, the bad guys are bad because they’re fighting the good guys, and teh good guys are good because they’re fighting the bad guys. That’s the only reason that’s ever given. Well, that’s the story of the Jaredites, isn’t it: the good guys and the bad guys fighting with no in-betweens. We’ll see more of that here.
Also called “Formula of Faith, Hope, and Charity; Gifts.“
In Moroni 1:1, Moroni tells us that he’s writing an appendix to the Book of Mormon. He hadn’t intended to write any more, but he had some time on his hands. He ended it with the Jaredites. That’s where it should end, back there, showing that they suffered the same things. Well, I’m going to skip to just the high points here, and then I may go back to some others.
Doctrine and Covenants
During 1978, 1979, and 1980, Hugh Nibley taught a Doctrine and Covenants Sunday School class. Cassette recordings were made of these classes and some have survived and were recently digitized by Steve Whitlock. Most of the tapes were in pretty bad condition. The original recordings usually don't stop or start at the beginning of the class and there is some background noise. Volumes vary, probably depending upon where the recorder was placed in the room. Many are very low volume but in most cases it's possible to understand the words. In a couple of cases the ends of one class were put on some space left over from a different class. There's some mixup around D&C90-100 that couldn't be figured out so those recordings are as they were on the tapes.
Pearl of Great Price
Published as Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price.
Dr. Hugh W. Nibley, professor emeritus of ancient scriptures at Brigham Young University, gave the following twenty-six lectures in an honors class on The Pearl of Great Price. This class was videotaped in the Maesar Building during winter semester 1986 and the text was then transcribed and is included here in this book.
One Eternal Round
Time Vindicates the Prophets
In 1954, Hugh Nibley delivered a series of weekly lectures on KSL Radio. The series called “Time Vindicates the Prophets” was given in answer to those who were challenging the right of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to call themselves Christians.