by John E. Clark
For the past 46 years, the carved stone monument known as Izapa Stela 5 from southernmost Mexico has been discussed as a possible depiction of Lehi’s dream reported in 1 Nephi 8. From this the stela has come to be known in some Latter-day Saint circles as the “Lehi stone.” My purpose here is to present the latest drawing of this monument, to discuss how this drawing was made, and to suggest its implications for the Lehi hypothesis. This brief article is not meant to be the final word on the matter. In fact, I will avoid talking about most of the technical details and only highlight the most significant features of the scene on the stone in order to assess the implications of recent study.
The intriguing idea that a carved stone monument from the tropical forest of southern Mexico shows Lehi’s dream was first proposed by M. Wells Jakeman of the BYU Department of Archaeology in the early 1950s (see the article in this issue by Stewart Brewer for a history of this proposal). Since then the stone has been the subject of intense study by numerous scholars, the most thorough and persuasive being that by V. Garth Norman. The bottom line of all the discussion over the years is that every scholar who has taken a serious look at thisRead Full Post
In Ether 12:27 the Lord tells the prophet Moroni:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Many articles could be written on this one verse alone, but for the purpose of this article I will be providing some thoughts on at least two types of strength God gives to us. I was reading this verse today in church and felt like exploring more about what God means by “strong”.Read Full Post
A recent change in Book of Mormon introduction gives support to the idea that when Lehi arrived at the promised land here in the Americas, that he was not alone. The introduction used to read:
…After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.
With a change of one word, it now reads:
…After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.
This significance of this change and why it was made is something fascinating to explore. The previous rendering seemed to lend credence to the supposition that all of the Native Americans were descendants of the Lamanites while the new rendering clearly implies that Lamanite remnants are instead mingled among the ancestors of the Native Americans. Like Jerry Seinfeld, we ourselves are left to ponder “Who aaaare these people?”
Everyone has their own theory about where the Native American people came from. There are all kinds of methods from DNA toRead Full Post
Keith J. Wilson, “From Gutenberg to Grandin: Tracing the Development of the Printing Press,” inPrelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church (Provo, UT and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University and Deseret Book, 2004), 269–286.
Keith J. Wilson is an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.
Late in March 1830, a notice in the Palmyra, New York, newspaper appeared announcing the recent publication of the Book of Mormon. It was the culmination of a three-year translating and printing process that would ultimately stamp Palmyra as the birthplace of Mormonism. Producing this book in the small town along the Erie Canal was an event of unusual proportion as well as portent. In many waysRead Full Post
Please consider the power of these teachings pulled straight from the text of the Book of Mormon:Read Full Post
I submit that where symbolism is in use, there is an invitation to receive more knowledge via a revelatory experience.
The veil exists to ensure that we are not held accountable for that which we are not willing to receive.
When the disciples of Christ came to him and asked “Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (Matt. 13:10)” Jesus responded saying “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given… therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matt. 13:11,13)Read Full Post
Today was the first day of Sunday School for the new year and each year we begin the study of a new collection of scripture. The cycle repeats itself over four years, so we spend two years on the Bible, one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament. Then we spend two years on restoration scripture, one on the Book of Mormon and one on the Doctrine and Covenants and a collection of various scriptures referred to as “The Pearl of Great Price”.
We just finished up the Book of Revelation in the New Testament in December so this next year invites us to a full study of the Book of Mormon. Part of what we covered today was the beheading of Laban by Nephi, a dramatic event that any new reader to the Book of Mormon encounters almost immediately.
In the beginning of the narrative, Nephi, a young man of unknown age is living peaceably in the city of Jerusalem and just a short time later, he stands before the drunken body of Laban as the Lord commands him to slay the man; what a contrast of situations for anyone to be placed in!Read Full Post
So I’m in love with my new “Reader’s Edition” of the Book of Mormon and I’ll explain why here in this review. First of all, I understand the value of the “official” scriptures the church puts out; they are brilliant for cross-referencing and studying.
However, I find them quite terrible for reading. If you don’t agree with me it might be because you grew up reading the four thin columns of highly compressed text and are used to it. But to many novices to scripture, especially the LDS editions, it might be a bit of a struggle if you are used to reading novels and other modern books presented in elegant typographic style.
I’m note really a novice to the LDS version of the scriptures, I’m quite used toRead Full Post
Today is the 10th anniversary of the horrific events that began with the deaths of over 3000 people here in the United States and that continues to this day with a total human death toll that has climbed well over one million dead, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans and almost 5000 dead U.S. soldiers. [source]
Are we any closer to justice or peace? Where is the end to all of this? How does one win a war that is not declared on any nation but on individuals we arbitrarily identify as “terrorists”.
As a Latter-day Saint, I refer often to the Book of Mormon which has much to say on the situation of war. I have learned that is it just to fight to defend certain things:
Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church. And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed… – Alma 43:45-47
Innocent people were killed on 9/11 and we declared ourselves as a nation under attack. If we look to the Book of Mormon for perspective, we will find recorded in 3 Nephi an account of a band of “terrorists” living out in the wilderness who threaten the Nephite civilization. The people conclude that the best decision is to fall upon them in the wilderness and destroy them in their own landsRead Full Post
Every now and then I come across a comment, an article or a discussion about the Eternal nature of God and what it means. This subject has always been very thought-provoking to me so I’d like to put down some thoughts on the matter.
Some who question Church doctrine quote Moroni 7:22 and Mosiah 3:5 which read:
Moroni 7:22 – For Behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting…
Mosiah 3:5 – …who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity…
These scriptures are brought up and compared to an excerpt from Joseph Smith’s “King Follet Sermon” where Joseph states:Read Full Post
And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu. – Jacob 7:27
I have often heard critics of the Book of Mormon make a big stink over the word “adieu” in the Book of Mormon. People argue that the Nephites could not possibly have known French or this word since it originated around the 14th century.
I’ve heard both LDS and non-LDS people talking about how the word adieu meansRead Full Post
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
For the sake of convenience, I’m going to break each part of this verse down into digestible elements. This will not be exhaustive by any means and I might use this as a starting point for later study.
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.
As a letter in the alphabet of symbolism, “seed” has been used to convey the idea of posterity or faith, but in this case “the word” is being compared to a seed. What is “the word” then? Well, technically, the word can be anything, it’s whatever you want to know. The word comes to us in many ways. It is preached to us, we read it in the scriptures or we just simply come across it or it reveals itself to us in diverse ways.Read Full Post
CNN — Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.
Before its announcement Tuesday, WHO had assured consumers that no adverse health effects had been established.
A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
What that means is that right now there haven’t been enough long-term studies conducted to make a clear conclusion if radiation from cell phones are safe, but there is enough data showing a possible connection that consumers should be alerted.
“The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences,” said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. It is not like an X-ray, but more like a very low-powered microwave oven.
“What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain. So in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell phones.”
The voices urging caution to consumers have gotten louder in recent years.
The European Environmental Agency has pushed for more studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline. The head of a prominent cancer-research institute at the University of Pittsburgh sent a memo to all employees urging them to limit cell phone use because of a possible risk of cancer.
“When you look at cancer development — particularly brain cancer — it takes a long time to develop. I think it is a good idea to give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to radiation from your cell phone could possibly cause cancer,” said Dr. Henry Lai, research professor in bioengineering at University of Washington who has studied radiation for over 30 years.
Results from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer was released in 2010. It showed participants in the study who used a cell phones for 10 years or more had doubled the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor. To date, there have been no long-term studies on the effects of cell phone usage among children.
“Childrens’ skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger.” said Black of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Manufacturers of many popular cell phones already warn consumers to keep their device away from their body.
The Apple iPhone 4 safety manual says for users’ radiation exposure to not exceed FCC guidelines, “When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body.”
Blackberry Bold advises users to, “keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 in. (25 mm) from your body when the BlackBerry device is transmitting.”
I don’t know what Nephi originally constructed his ship with, but today we’re going to build his ship with an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. I actually have a ton of stuff like this that I’ve used for lessons in the past so I’ll probably be posting some of these things every now and then.
So channeling Sugardoodle.net that my wife frequents, I’m going to provide a simple papercraft project for teaching about Nephi’s ship and obedience.
My current calling is teaching the CTR 7 kids in primary. It’s a calling that I find very interesting and rewarding as I get to discuss the gospel with these very young minds. Well, today’s lesson was on how God helps us to be obedient to his commandments which is an interesting topic in its own right. We talked about how difficult and even impossible it must have seemed for Nephi to do such a task.Read Full Post
S. Kent Brown, “When Did Jesus Visit the Americas?” in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1998), 146–156.
When Did Jesus Visit the Americas?
Conflicting views exist about when Jesus appeared to his New World disciples. Did he appear directly after his ascension to the Father? Some believe that his appearance followed the forty days with his disciples in Palestine, while others believe that an entire year had passed after the resurrection when he appeared in the Americas. Observations from the text suggest that he mercifully waited for the people to recover from the destruction that attended his crucifixion. Compelling details help us approach an answer to this puzzling question.
Even in the bright light of written commentary and artistic depiction, a question persists about the datingRead Full Post
One of the past great leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a man named Ezra Taft Benson. He had this to say about the Book of Mormon:
The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.
Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time. (The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God, President Ezra Taft Benson, Jan 1988.)
The purpose of this article is to show how the Book of Mormon calls out and condemns the biggest threat to liberty that mankind has ever faced – a threat that already encompasses us.
It is somewhere around A.D. 29-30 on the American continent. A group of elites, rich, powerful and connected, seek for more powerRead Full Post
There is a three word phrase that is found only in the Book of Mormon and it has always intrigued me. We read of looking forward or beholding with an ‘eye of faith’ things that are either to come or things that currently exist but are invisible to temporal vision.
The three verses
We find the phrase “eye of faith” in the following scriptures listed below.
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.
And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.
In both of the verses in Alma, we are admonished to ‘look forward’ with this eyeRead Full Post
I actually came across this today at TempleStudy.com and thought it was absolutely fascinating! I love ancient artifacts especially when those artifacts give us new light into the past. If these lead plates are found to be authentic, there are some major implications in so many areas that I haven’t even had time to collect my thoughts on the subject!
One of the most significant features of the plates are their ties to ancient Christianity. It would make these documents the oldest Christian documents ever discovered in this region and can shed some new light into what some of these early believers taught and understood about the Gospel.
Then there are the obvious similarities of these records to the Book of Mormon, the original version written of plates of Gold and bound together with three rings. Here are the lead plates:
***UPDATE (Sat, April 2, 2011):
It appears that more and more there is evidence that these are indeed incredible forgeries. TempleStudy.com has a great write up on the current state of these ‘plates’. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what the investigations reveal about their origins; very interesting…
These aren’t the only examples of ancient people writing on metal plates, here are some photos of several other authentic records that have been discovered:
We have a parable and two visions to look at here. The parable of the sower is a familiar New Testament parable related by Jesus Christ to a multitude from a ship on the sea shore about the various types of ground certain seeds were cast on to. The first vision is an account in the Book of Mormon by a prophet named Lehi who sees a vision revolving around a tree of life and a description of the various types of people he observes. The second vision is an account from Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants concerning the degrees of glory that exist in the hereafter and a description of the characteristics of those inhabitants.
In the parable of the sower, we are taught by the Master about seeds cast into various situations and what the consequences were. The parable is found in Matthew 13 in the New Testament.
- Good ground: (Brought forth fruit; some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.)
Interpretation: To those that hear the word and understand it, they will all bear fruit but at varying degrees.
- The way side: (Fowls came and devoured them up)
Interpretation: When any one hears the word of the kingdom, but doesn’t understand it the adversary can come and steal away whatever was sown in his heart.
- Thorns: (The thorns sprung up, and choked them.)
Interpretation: This is one that hears the word, but the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word.
- Stony places: (There was not much earth so when they sprung up they were scorched by the sun because they had no root and they withered away.)
Interpretation: This is one that hears the word and receives it gladly but because ‘he hath not root in himself’, he endures for a while but is immediately offended when tribulation and persecution arise.
Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life
In Lehi’s vision there are multitudes of people pressing towardRead Full Post
They don’t write definitions the way they used to anymore. This is just one more great reason why I love Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. The standard definition for ‘selfish’ is pretty straightforward, but then you come to ‘selfishly’ and then POW, you’ve got some brilliantly delivered doctrine!
SELF’ISHLY, adv. The exclusive of a person to his own interest or happiness; or that supreme self-love or self-preference, which leads a person in his actions to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power or happiness, without regarding the interest of others. Selfishness, in its worst or unqualified sense, is the very essence of human depravity, and it stands in direct opposition to benevolence, which is the essence of the divine character. As God is love, so man, in his natural state, is selfishness.
So if we want to dig a little deeper here, we will find a profound truth. We are used to two ends of a spectrum in our faith, we usually speak of pride and humility. But, in my opinion there is something more specifically worse than pride and infinitely greater than humility; it is selfishness on one end and at the other end, charity, which is the benevolence of Christ.
So what isRead Full Post