Friday, December 30, 2016

3 Nephi 26: Haven't We Been Here Before

Jesus is still expounding upon the gospel, as Jesus is apparently wont to do.

Some Kind of Convoluted Wisdom
If a careful reading of verse 2 doesn't make you scratch your head, you must have a very high tolerance for nonsense:
And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.
So, Jesus gave these scriptures to the ancient Americans because God wanted the modern church to have them?  Let's analyze God's "wisdom" here....

Wouldn't it have been easiernay, wiser—for God to have made these scriptures available in the modern day through the use of his modern prophets?  I mean, unless the scriptures are meant for both the ancient era and the modern day, but I'm not sure if that's true either considering that Jesus expounded upon obsolete doctrine in the previous chapter, so maybe these scriptures are meant for, you know, a whole bunch of dead people.

Jesus does seem to imply that he's sharing these scriptures with the Nephites because the Nephites don't have access to them, but if that's why he's doing it, why couldn't God have done it sooner, before the Mosiac Law had become passé, and while all the doctrines would have actually done the ancient Americans some good?

But these scriptures lifted from the Bible are largely identical to the Biblical versions so widely available during—and ever since—the restoration of the church.  The number of changes made that aren't merely grammatical is staggeringly low when compared against the quantity of Biblical material borrowed.

And then when you consider the fact that almost two millennia later, Joseph Smith will go through the Bible and make "corrected" translations that will, in some cases, not match the supposedly perfect translations in the Book of Mormon, none of this makes any sense.  If God could have had Joseph Smith provide the modern era with these scriptures, why did he bother to make sure this part of the ancient records were preserved for us?  And if Joseph was inspired to write different words than what Christ himself said, which version of the translation is technically the correct word of God?

So basically, God's strategy here is way too confused to be considered as anything which remotely approaches wisdom.

The Reliable Excuse
I'm getting pretty tired of the Book of Mormon using this particular cop-out (verses 6 and 7):
And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people; 
But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people.
If you can't even fit one percent of the speech of the savior of the freaking world into your little book, then why would you bother to include so much other stuff that doesn't matter?  Get rid of Jarom, Omni, and the Words of Mormon.  Cut out most of the Isaiah quotes.  Pare down the war chapters to be less about military strategy and more about gospel stuff.  And then maybe we can hear more about the most important event in the entirety of this centuries-long history book.

But, rest assured, dear readers, Jesus said plenty of stuff, but it's only unlockable as downloadable content if you pay an exorbitant secondary fee. But it's totally there.

This reminds me of the various members of the Quorum of the Twelve assuring the church that answers to their questions exist—but neglecting to answer or directly acknowledge the most important questions.  It's useless.

But it gets worse.  This chapter takes that old cop-out and raises it to an unprecedented level.  In verse 11, Nephi states that he Lord "forbade" him from writing down everything Jesus said.  In verse 14, the Nephite children teach many unspecified "great and marvelous things, even greater than [Jesus] had revealed unto the people."  In verse 16, the children again taught "marvelous things" on which God also issued a gag order.  And finally, in verse 18, many of the people baptized by the disciples "saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written."

I think we're beating this to death here.  Are these things sacred, are they secret, or had Joseph Smith simply not made up enough of his deeper doctrines at the time of this chapter's supposed translation?


  1. Wow, this chapter is another mess, as you clearly point out. Here are some of my observations.


    So the people of future generations have to have faith to get this over 99% of wisdom and truth Jesus spoke to the people? I wonder if the babes were saying some of the “forbidden to be written stuff” that only people with faith were supposed to have revealed to them. Plus, the same “babes” said greater things than even Jesus taught them, which begs the question, why did he even need to come?

    Verse 14: “…they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people…”

    So, these people saw Jesus, touched him, and heard him speak for several days. That’s not all, he also did a lot of cool stuff written in verse 15:

    “after having healed all their sick, and their lame, and opened the eyes of their blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf, and even had done all manner of cures among them, and raised a man from the dead, and had shown forth his power unto them, and had ascended unto the Father—"

    I think we can assume that all this would be about as close to “perfect knowledge” as you can get. But then we get to our day, we are only allowed to read apparently less than 1% of this awesome stuff, because Nephi and Moroni are forbidden to write about it. The only way we’ll ever get to know it is to personally have faith and get it revealed to us, because it’s unspeakable and forbidden to be written. In fact, it's against to law to write that stuff. Verse 18 “And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.”

    1. The church really does seem to implicitly parrot the mindset they deride from Joseph Smith's era--that the age of miracles is over. These kinds of scriptural miracles don't happen anymore. The miracles we hear about in general conference tend to be private or internal miracles, like a person's change of heart. Not much that is public or external has cropped up since the early days of the church. And certainly nothing like what happened in these chapters.

      Also, I forgot to point out how weird it is that some kids managed to impart truths that were greater than the things Jesus taught.