Monday, March 26, 2012

1 Nephi 19: The Likening

Nephi and his family have reached the promised land successfully.  Nephi sets out to make a second set of plates to record secular things, and then he follows that explanation with a lengthy testimony about the coming of Christ.

Paving the Way for Non-Linear Narrative
Either Nephi was a bad writer, or he thought it was appropriate to do some experimentation with literary technique in his sacred history.  The first few verses of this chapter make it sound like he had mostly been making a journal on his first set of plates, but when he arrived in the promised land, he was commanded to make an alternate set of plates for recording sacred things.

This is something that he told us in Chapter 9.  But what he didn't explain in Chapter 9 was when he made each set of plates.  This makes it pretty confusing when you get to Chapter 19, because he describes making plates again.  For a minute it looks like he's making a third set of plates and then playing a shell game with them to see if you're paying attention to which one is the set of plates you're actually reading in translated, printed form.

Apparently, instead, he was just pioneering the non-linear narrative form, many centuries before William Faulkner or Christopher Nolan employed it in a much more notable fashion.

Likening the Scriptures
Chapter 19 contains another scripture mastery, verse 23:
And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer 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.
Well, let's take a page out of Nephi's book (Get it?!) and see what his words have for us to liken.  This is what we can learn from Nephi's scriptures:

1.  A little conversational misdirection can convince people to follow your idiotic whims.
2.  Killing people is totally fine, even if there's a better way to get things done.
3.  Being an uppity prick is okay if you're destined to be a ruler over your brethren.
4.  Specificity is less desirable than ego.
5.  Being really, really righteous and virtuous and awesome can give you superpowers.
6.  God will send an angel, send a storm, or zap you to let you know you're being dumb.

Wow, Nephi.  Thanks a bunch.  That's a lot of useful information.  I can't wait to liken the next two hundred twenty chapters to myself for my profit and learning.

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