Saturday, August 9, 2014

Alma 28: A Bigger, Better War

The Nephites are now guarding the people of Ammon (née Anti-Nephi-Lehies), who have been safely tucked away in a corner of their kingdom.  But the bloodthirsty Lamanites are chasing the people of Ammon and try to fight their way through the Nephite armies to get them back.

Narrative Escalation and Non-Linear Storytelling
Joseph Smith makes a continuity error in verse 2:
And thus there was a tremendous battle; yea, even such an one as never had been known among all the people in the land from the time Lehi left Jerusalem; yea, and tens of thousands of the Lamanites were slain and scattered abroad.
Tens of thousands, you say?  Biggest slaughter in the land since the time Lehi left Jerusalem, you say?
What about the Jaredite civilization, numbering in the millions, that basically swallowed itself up in constant warfare until only one guy remained?  What about the story the people of Zarahemla learned of Coriantumr, the king and last survivor of the Jaredite nation?

My guess is that Joseph either forgot about the Jaredites at this point in the dictation of the book or he hadn't planned on making their society so huge.  But after all these wars and battles, he might have wanted to amp up the carnage and the intensity just so it didn't seem mundane and irrelevant.  So he made hundreds of thousands of Jaredites die in Ether, completely forgetting about this one pesky little verse he'd written a few hundred pages back that puts a cap on the number of casualties his battles are supposed to have.

Yeah, Sure, That's the Moral of the Story
After spending three verses describing the carnage the Lamanites and Nephites caused each other and the depth of sorrow of the mourning civilians, we arrive upon what strikes me as an odd comment in verse 13:
And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.
Wait, what?  "The inequality of man?"  What does that even mean?  What I'm getting from this chapter is how terrible war is and how much of a price we'll all have to pay for the senseless violence of our societies.  But yeah, um, the power of the devil and all that inequality stuff sounds good, too.  

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