There are 8 thoughts on “The Language of the Spirit in the Book of Mormon”.

  1. You follow Wilf Hildebrandt in arguing that ANE texts in general do not have a close analogy with the OT spirit of God.

    In examining Facsimile 2:7 of the LDS Book of Abraham, however, we note that the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is a familiar figure (D&C 93:15, Mark 1:10, Matthew 3:16, Luke 3:22, John 1:32). Speleers defined the type of Egyptian figures we find in Abraham 2:7 as Nehebkau and the deceased, while Varga termed them the Lord of the Universe and Nehebkau. Budge noted that Neheb-ka (Nhb-kЗ) is mentioned in the Book of the Dead (spell 30:5, A&B, Nhb-kЗ ∥Rʿ,somehow connected with wdЗ, prosperity). It is a god who can have the body of a human and the head of a serpent (in bronze figurines), or the body of an animal and the head of a serpent (a composite) and is known to hold a WdЗt in its paws – it can wear plumes and horns also (the WdЗt can represent sun or moon, or simply aspects of the sun; a Roman cartonnage with Coffin Text in the British Museum even has a serpent depicted with falcon-head, four legs & wings). Lichtheim saw Nehebkau (NhbkЗw) as a divinity in serpent form who is in the retinue of Re and serves as a guardian, in her comments on Pyramid Utterance263. However, in translating the term Nhb-kЗw.f, she rendered it as “man) of standing; (lit.) one whose kas are harnessed” (from the First Interregnum Stela of Ity, 3). Whatever the meaning of combined terms like Nhbw-kЗw (cf. Pyramid Utterance 517; Coffin Texts, II, 49 [84],II, 51-54 [85-88], and VI, 133k,392h), it ought to suffice to note that, while most hypocephali have a serpent in Fac. 2:7’s position, there are examples of hypocephali with birds and animals in the same place and performing the same function, and most are clearly ithyphallic, i.e., symbolic of procreation and the generative power (which Latter-day Saints associate with both mortal and immortal life– a function of humans and of gods).

    In Coffin Texts contemporary with Abraham, the Nhb-kЗw is an ʿw-serpent – a taker away of power and a bestower of powers, with authority from the Great Ennead of Atum, i.e., the Divine Council, or is seen as seven uraei exalted and identified with the Bull of the Tribunal-Ennead (see Faulkner on Coffin Texts 85-88 [II, 51-54]). Is this not a good analogy with the Holy Spirit?

    As “Holy Ghost,” therefore, I call attention to the -kЗ element of ancient Egyptian Nhb-kЗ in Fac. 2:7, kЗ having been translated variously as “ghost, phantom” (Edfu, IV, 266, 7; Shipwrecked Sailor,114), “spirit, soul; essence; personality; fortune; fate; will (of king); kingship; goodwill; genius; guardian spirit; power; double” (Pyramid Text 587), “hyper-physical vital force.” The angelic or messenger function is oddly confirmed by Mercer’s incorrect definition of Fac. 1:1’s falcon as a “ka” representing Isis or the soul of Osiris, or of the deceased! Indeed, in the 6th Dynasty Autobiography of Weni from Abydos, one finds a god can command, while his kЗ will declare and promulgate that command – the very function fulfilled biblically by the “Holy Ghost” (see Cairo Museum 1435, lines 48-50, as translated by Miriam Lichtheim). Wilson says that “some of the Old Kingdom names suggest that a noble’s Ka may have been the pharaoh or a specific god,” and Budge’s 1895 comments are most striking:

    “The word ka means ‘image’, the Greek εἴδωλον (compare Coptic κω . ..). The ka seems to have been the ‘ghost’, as we should say, of a man, . . his abstract personality, to which, after death, the Egyptians gave a material form.”

    Budge uses “ghost” for kЗ there and in his 1920 two-volume Hieroglyphic Dictionary. No other Egyptian word is so defined!! More recently, Klaus Baer defined kЗ as a “double” or “personality (of a person or a god) personified as an entity separate from him” (cf. Pyramid Utterance 440).

    • Hi, Bob,
      Thanks for this good information. Are you aware of any published summaries of this evidence from Egyptian sources that I could use as a correction to Hildebrandt’s broad claims?

  2. You say “We have only one clear example in the Old Testament of a prophet claiming to exercise his responsibility by virtue of this spiritually given power,” namely Micah 3:8.

    However, “Spirit of the Lord” also appears in Judges 3:10, 6:34, 1 Samuel 10:6, Isaiah 11:2, 61:1, Ezekiel 11:5, and “Spirit of God” in Genesis 1:2, 41:38, Numbers 24:2, 1 Samuel 10:10, 19:23, and “Holy Spirit” in Isaiah 63:10-11, Psalm 51:11.

    Job 33:23 has Hebrew meli “interpreter, mediator, helper” (in parallel there with “angel, messenger”) translated in the Aramaic targum as paraqlyta,, a Greek loanword familiar to us in New Testament parakletos “advocate, intercessor, counselor, comforter, supporter, sponsor; Doppelgänger, alter ego, successor” (only in Johannine texts). [1]

    In John 14:16, for example, the “Second Comforter” is the Holy Ghost, who is often called the “Paraclete” in non-Mormon circles. But what is a paraclete? The phrase in Greek (‘allon parakleton) is translated in various ways, and it can be confusing: John 14:16 “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (KJV); “Segond Consolateur” (German Luther Bible revised); “another Counselor” (RSV, NIV); “another Advocate” (JB, NRSV, SV); “another Helper” (TEV); “another to be your Advocate” (NEB, REB); “another Paraclete” (NAB, see note: “Jesus is the first Paraclete” in I John 2:1). In other words, Jesus is the “first counselor,” and the Holy Spirit is the “second counselor.”

    [1] John Ashton, “Paraclete,” in D. Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, V:152-153.

    • Bob,
      Thanks for that interesting addendum on paraclete.
      The point of the Micah 3:8 reference was that it was the only passage I was aware of in which the prophet explicitly claimed the authorization of the spirit of the Lord for his prophetic words. Earlier in the paper I used Hildebrandt’s four categories of the numerous ways that the spirit of the Lord was recognized in the OT text for its activities and influence, without repeating all his examples–which would include the list you provided.

  3. In follow-up of my earlier comments, I again than Noel B. Reynolds for his great article and point out one further topic which he discussed.
    Nephi’s vision– Reynolds suggests that in the course of Nephi’s vision, Nephi comes to understand that at some point he is seeing the Lord’s premortal spiritual body. The reader is left to draw his own conclusions. Since the brother of Jared was told to share this same knowledge with no man until after the Savior’s ministry, it seems unlikely that Nephi would have included this same knowledge without the same injunction in a record intended to be passed down and read by his descendants. Also, Elder Talmage’s understanding of Nephi 11, before he was ordained an Apostle, is that Nephi is seeing and speaking to the Holy Ghost, concluding from Nephi’s vision “we learn that the Holy Ghost is in the form of a man”. Talmage Articles of Faith p 11.

  4. Great article! I particularly appreciated the clear exposition given between baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

    The Light of Christ – in regard to the Light of Christ as spoken of in D&C 88:7 and mentioned in this article in reference to Mormon’s discourse, I would like to point out that Elder Boyd K Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of The Twelve, explained at a seminar for new mission presidents, June 2004, that the Light of Christ is separate from the Holy Ghost. Ensign April 2005. Also see Elder Marion G Romney Ensign May 1977

  5. Wonderful article! It shows part of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers that can be found NO WHERE ELSE but in the Church.

    I remember getting a phone call from a single woman dating a man who had been disciplined by the Church. This single woman was troubled by what this man had told her. This man had told this single woman that non-members of the Church do service, pray, get answers, and experience miracles. Thus, this man concluded that the non-members have the same privileges and powers that members have. I explained to her what this wonderful article explains: only in the Church can you receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost that not only can cleanse your soul of all your sins but can empower you by filling you with feelings of love and kindness, with knowledge of the mysteries of godliness, and with the power of discernment and prophecy. The church-disciplined man was correct that some non-members are good people who experience miracles, that you do NOT need the Church to be a good person, that you do not need the Church to experience answers to prayer, and experience miracles. But what the church-disciplined man totally missed was: if you want to become Christlike in your nature, if you want to be perfected, then you MUST have the Gift of the Holy Ghost . Non-members can experience the Holy Ghost on occasion, but experiencing the Holy Ghost on a few occasions is NOT the same as having the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. It takes the constant companionship of a god – the Holy Ghost – to be perfected, which is made possible by the Savior’s atonement.

    Notice that the mission of the Church is not merely to make us good people, but is “the perfecting of the saints.” That’s why George Washington and the signers of the Declaration of Independence appeared to apostle Wilford Woodruff in the St. George temple and demanded that the temple work be done for them – an experience that Wilford Woodruff talked about later when he became President of the Church. George Washington and the signers of the Declaration of Independence had been good men during mortality, had prayed and received answers during mortality, and had experienced miracles during mortality: e.g. winning the revolutionary war against what was then the most powerful nation on earth, writing an inspired Constitution, having U.S. Presidents who refused to become dictators. When they died, entered the spirit world, and were taught the Gospel, they realized that they could have all of their imperfections and flaws erased, that they could become Christlike in their nature, and thus be perfected if – IF they received the ordinances of the Gospel, especially the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Ordinances, especially the Gift of the Holy Ghost, convey power. Power to do what? Power to become like Jesus Christ. But these ordinances were not performed in the spirit world and were performed only in the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Therefore, that’s why George Washington and the signers of the Declaration of Independence appeared to apostle Wilford Woodruff in the St. George temple and demanded that the temple work be done for them.

    Many years ago a baby in Salt Lake City was kidnapped. It was a big news story. The baby was found because of the following: a young lady came out of her apartment building, heard a faint cry, looked up, and saw on the 3rd floor of another apartment building a man on a porch holding a box. She heard another faint cry. She knew that the man was a single man who had no children. She felt impressed to phone the police. The police found the kidnapped baby in the box. I wanted to use this wonderful story in my Sunday school class to illustrate the importance of listening to the impressions of the Holy Ghost. I looked up the phone number of the lady named in the news story, and phoned. Another lady answered the phone and said that she was the mother-in-law of the lady named in the news story. When I told the mother-in-law why I was calling, she said that her daughter-in-law (who had phoned the police) was NOT a member of the Church and was very sweet. (I humorously thought that the daughter-in-law MUST be sweet if her mother-in-law said she was sweet.) The mother-in-law identified herself as a “jack-Mormon” (NOT, NOT my description of her, but HER description of herself) and reminded me that “non-members can get revelation too”; I fully agreed with her, and thanked her. Yes, it’s true that some non-members are good people who experience miracles, who do NOT need the Church to be a good person, who do not need the Church to experience answers to prayer, and to experience miracles. But if you want to become Christlike in your nature, if you want to be perfected, then you MUST have the Gift of the Holy Ghost as the excellent article shows. And you can get this glorious gift only in The Church of Jesus…

  6. I have read Brother Reynolds article three times so far. Among other things, it is a deep and rich analysis of the identity, mission and function of the Holy Ghost as taught in the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I found it helpful to separate this Book of Mormon discussion off from discussion of New Testament intertextuality. Like Brother Reynolds, I do not always find that discussion helpful when trying to avoid anachronism and more fully understand the older contexts of the Book of Mormon.

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