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I don’t know if I am posting this in the right place. I don’t see anything yet for lesson 31 (Alma 43-52) Regarding Mormon’s resumption of the Zoramite war, I like what Grant Hardy points out with respect to Mormon as editor:
“Occasionally there is tension between Mormon’s desire to tell an edifying story and his commitments to accuracy. He believes the facts of history will demonstrate moral principles, but the messy details of the past can get in the way of clear, unambiguous lessons. Embedded documents offer one way of avoiding inconvenient truths while at the same time fulfilling his obligations as a historian. They allow him to present a few significant particulars without having to comment upon them directly.
“[In the previous chapters and in this chapter, we have sermons] by Alma and Amulek, with the result that many of the poorer Zoramites repent and are consequently expelled from the city. They make their way to the land of Jershon, where they are welcomed and given land (Alma 32:1-5; 35:1-7). The Zoramites are so angered by the hospitality of the Nephites in Jershon that they form an alliance with the Lamanites to attack them (the very scenario that Alma’s preaching was intended to prevent). Next we read that “thus commenced a war betwixt the Lamanites and the Nephites…and account will be given of their wars hereafter” (Alma 35:13; note that the combined Zoramite/Lamanite forces are now simply referred to as “Lamanites”).
“Mormon quickly observes that Alma and his companions returned home to Zarahemla and that their new converts were forced to take up arms to defend themselves (35:13), and then he begins a rather lengthy digression: “Now Alma, being grieved for the iniquity of his people, yea for the wars, and the bloodsheds and the contentions which were among the people, and having been to declare the word…among all the people in every city…therefore, he caused that his sons should be gathered together, that he might give unto them every one his charge” (35:5-16). After seven chapters copied from Alma’s personal record – consisting of Alma’s eloquent speeches of counsel to his three sons – Mormon tells us that Alma and his sons went out to preach again, and then he brings us back to the war that had begun so many pages earlier (Alma 43:3,4; notice again that the conflict has been reduced to Nephites and Lamanites, further obscuring the cause of the invasion).
“In other words, Mormon inserts Alma’s instructions to his sons in the middle of the Zoramite War, where it represents a significant break in the narrative. But, since the war itself takes place entirely within the eighteenth year, with no discernible impact from the new round of preaching, Mormon could have recounted the Zoramite affair from the beginning to the end and then added Alma’s document without upsetting the chronology at all. In fact, under this arrangement, Alma’s teachings would have concluded his term as record keeper (Alma 44:24) and would have led quite naturally into his last words and death (Alma 45), the place where we typically would expect final words of fatherly wisdom (as in 2 Nephi 1-4). The surprising placement seems designed to disrupt a smooth reading of the Zoramite story, which, taken as a whole, did not go so well. By the time readers get back to the war, they may have forgotten the rather awkward truth that Alma’s preaching to the Zoramites not only did not prevent hostilities but was itself a major catalyst for the fighting (upon his return to the main narrative, Mormon quickly adds additional factors; Alma 43:5-8). Yet all the facts are there, even if the sequence of causation is obscured. Technically, Mormon acquitted himself as an honest historian, but he has also managed to divert our attention from some awkward details. “(Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, Reader’s Guide, 148-150)
In a foot-note Grant Hardy states: “One possible connection is that when Alma addresses his youngest son, Corianton, he speaks at length of death, judgment, and resurrection – issues that the rebellious Corianton had been worried about. This discourse is particularly poignant given that Mormon has placed it at the beginning of the Zoramite War; before the year is out, a large number of young men are going to be dead (Alma 44:21-24) (Hardy, Reader’s Guide, pg. 305, note 51)
Why would Mormon see a second version of Alma2‘s conversion narrative as contributing to our understanding?
Grant Hardy notes:
“Copying Alma’s account verbatim allows Mormon to claim historical specificity (i.e., this is how Alma actually came to understand his own experience, with no tendentious paraphrases or prejudicial phrasing on my part), spiritual immediacy (in one of the most compelling expositions of the effects of the atonement to be found anywhere in the Book of Mormon), and literary quality (as will be seen in the care with which Alma has structured his account). Alma 36 is a remarkable pice of writing and is not surprising that Mormon chose to embed it whole into his narrative.
“[Alma 36] contains a vivid memorable account of conversion that completely overwhelms the rather generic doctrinal point (“trust in the Lord”) that it was intended to support. In addition, although it features the appearance of an angel and an earthquake, the focus is on Alma’s psychological state rather than on the miraculous nature of his experience; throughout the Book of Mormon angels are described in a fairly matter-of-fact manner. The heavenly messenger here does not symbolically or metaphorically stand in for something else; he is just part of the story, and that is at least part of what makes this a “realistic” or “history-like” narrative, despite its supernatural elements.
“It is true that Mormon could have communicated these ideas through a paraphrased rendition (as he did in Mosiah 27), but by presenting Alma’s testimony in full, we can appreciate its form as well as its content. Whether or not it represents valid evidence for ancient origins, Alma 36 does reflect a careful , deliberate arrangement of the story.” (Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, A Reader’s Guide, pg. 138, 139, 141)
Re: Lesson 56:
I was exercising while listening to this lesson so maybe this was mentioned. One of the mysteries for me is the process of revelation and communication with God. When I discovered that the Blacks received the Priesthood not by direct revelation, but by voting, I became aware that the Church doesn’t receive communication by direct communication with God. And then President Hinckley said on TV that he receives revelation just like everyone else, “the still small voice.” How disappointing for a young Mormon! My comment is that perhaps Abraham receiving his commandment to slay his son was not a legitimate command from the Lord, but just a dream or an idea. Any answers or comments?
Hi Jared my name is Jason and I have been avid listener to the podcasts and just tried to find answers I’ve been searching for, you know just things that I’ve been struggling with intellectually, spiritually emotionally and now that you are in the Genesis talking about Adam and evening creations Cain and Abel I can’t shake this feeling in this idea that perhaps the It may be prudent to discuss Adam God doctrine by Brigham Young. As you were talking about evolution and these ideas time and space I just really would like to get your take on the Adam… I listened to the podcast on Mormon matters and found it very very intriguing butI just want to get your take on it as well as if you have time of course
I am a gospel doctrine teacher and appreciate the information and insights you provide. However, our teaching schedule seems to be ahead of your postings. For example, my lesson this Sunday is #19, not yet shown on your website. Since our stake has not had a stake conference yet this year, that may explain why we are ahead of your schedule. Any chance you could post your lesson earlier
Jared Anderson says:
Thanks for listening Don. We got a bit behind our ideal schedule (which would be at least ahead of everyone). We should be posting both Lessons 19 and 20 this week.
I’m several weeks behind (I teach youth Sunday School) and I’m wondering about chapters that get skipped–there are things I have questions about that I would really like to hear discussed or analyzed within chapters that aren’t part of the assigned reading. For example, Genesis 31, Jacob’s wives take Laban’s idols when they leave him. Later, when Laban and Jacob are hunting for the idols, the women hide them in a way that men could not look for them. What are the cultural contexts that make these idols so important to these women? Leah’s and Rachel’s marriages are seen as being appropriately within the covenant, but these idols would indicate something else was going on with their worship also. The idols are mentioned again in the beginning of chapter 35 where Jacob insists that their “strange gods” are put away from them and then insists that they bury them under a tree with some of their other treasures. Chapter 35 takes place years after chapter 31, indicating the ongoing problem with the idolatry.
Also, in thinking about “push back” against the text, I greatly enjoyed the discussion of the myriad difficulties in Genesis 34, but one viewpoint never entertained is that Dinah’s defilement was only thought to be so from the writer’s point of view. For all that Shechem is willing to give up for Dinah, is a consensual relationship possible, but that his “unclean” standing infuriates her brothers who could never see him as an acceptable consort to their only sister? Anyway, it is just a thought. I think that part of pushing back against the text is to think about all that is not being said, always bearing in mind that these ancient, mythic stories were passed by men and eventually recorded by them also. Even when women appear in the scriptures, I’m not always certain that their voices do.
Jared Anderson says:
Great comment! I love what you said about reclaiming women’s voices. Initially I was planning to cover all the unassigned readings in Part 2 of the podcast, but right now I have to work on the podcast as efficiently as possible. You are always welcome to post questions, and we have great discussions in the Facebook group. You are correct that the family idols are seen as completely normal, showing the tensions between 1) the original contexts/when the stories were written, 2) the religious values of later Judaism and 3) the way we talk about these stories in an LDS context.
I recall bringing up that option in the Lesson… was that not the case? If I didn’t mention it, I meant to. 🙂 Keep asking great questions!
Hey Jared! I am really enjoying your podcast. Thank you for all your efforts preparing it for us.
In the past your podcast has been published a day or two before our lesson is taught. Now somehow they are about 4 days after our lessons. As a Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward, I would love to have some of the insights before I have to teach the lesson–they have been helpful to me in the past.(Even though I don’t necessarily agree with some of the things said during the discussion portion of the podcast, it helps me understand that there may be people who feel that way in my class. This allows me to be sensitive to their feelings when I am able to listen to the podcast beforehand.)
I understand that you have a life outside the podcast, and I haven’t wanted to say anything because it seems like complaining when you don’t have a solution in mind. 🙂 Perhaps skipping a lesson would help the podcast get a weeks jump forward so that all could benefit from hearing it before your lessons are taught? Just an idea. I will listen in regardless of whether it can benefit my teaching week in Gospel Doctrine. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your gift of deciphering the scriptures with those of it who do no possess that gift.
Geoff Archibald says:
Thank you for the podcast. It makes for an uplifting and informative drive to work and even for a spiritual moment while mowing my lawn last week as I listened to the Job episode.
I was wondering if you have a sudy bible app for iPad you would recommend? I have almost bought a Harper Collins study bible several times but each time I hold back. I do practically all my scripture study in digital format so I just see it likely sitting on my shelf. I would love any insight you may have to offer.
Jared Anderson says:
I still strongly recommend a Study Bible. You may have a different set up with your digital study, but there is so much concentrated information in a Study Bible that I feel it doesn’t translate well to a digital format. I prefer to make notes in my hard copies.
That said, there are very good apps and electronic resources. Accordance is amazing, but that is because I own the actual program. I like the Olive Tree and You Version Bible App. Logos is good too.