There are 6 thoughts on “The Pleading Bar of God”.

  1. Thank-you, Bro. Skousen, for elaborating on this topic. As a committed Latter-day Saint, who has sinned enough to be apprehensive about meeting my Maker, the term “pleading bar of God” resonates more closely with my feelings about the Judgment Day than does the term “pleasing bar”. Yesterday, I participated in a “discovery” meeting with my lawyer and an opposing lawyer, who interrogated me for three hours about the affidavit I had submitted concerning my grievance with his client. Although I consider myself the victim in this case for which I am seeking compensation, and I have no reason to think myself in error, I still did not find anything “pleasing” about the exercise. I was being judged. Your more detailed analysis of the term confirmed the action I took when I read an earlier and less detailed rationale for “pleading” rather than “pleasing”. Convinced, I found the “offending” passages in my scriptures and replaced “pleasing” with “pleading” because I knew that it was a legal term used in the 16th century and it reflected my own experience. William Tyndale would have known the term as well. I can’t imagine having the confidence of Bro. Landrith, although I envy him for his positive feelings about making a report to the Lord, but in my case, “pleading” made infinitely more sense, regardless of how hard I have tried to please my Father in Heaven.

    • Raymond Shirritt-Beaumont
      I agree with you that we all have concerns about how we will face the Savior at the judgment bar.  Alma the Younger – BEFORE he repented – got a small taste of what he would experience before the judgment bar as he describes to his son Helaman (Alma 36: 24) his desire to become extinct rather than face God during his 3-day coma (Mosiah 27: 10 – 24).

      But the prophets have a different experience that we all can have. Moroni is experiencing the peace promised in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 59: 23:
      23 But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

      Obviously the “peace in this world” is NOT peace that the world provides but is only the peace that the Savior provides, that the Holy Ghost provides. One of the reasons that the Holy Ghost is called the Comforter is that the Holy Ghost can provide that peace. The Holy Ghost can tell you what the Lord told the following prophets cited very well by Skousen in his article. Skousen says:

      “There are a few cases that refer to an individual prophet standing before the Lord at the day of judgment. In these cases, the prophet’s work [Page 28]on earth will be vindicated because he has made sure that he has warned the people as the Lord commanded him, thus cleansing himself from the people’s blood (that is, guilt) at the day of judgment:
      2 Nephi 9:44 [Jacob speaking]
      behold I take off my garments and I shake them before you I pray
      the God of my salvation that he view me with his all-searching
      eye wherefore ye shall know at the last day when all men shall be
      judged of their works that the God of Israel did witness that I shook
      your iniquities from my soul and that I stand with brightness before
      him and am rid of your blood
      Jacob 1:19 [Jacob speaking]
      and we did magnify our office unto the Lord taking upon us the responsibility answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence wherefore by laboring with our mights their blood might not come upon our garments otherwise their blood would come upon our garments
      and we would not be found spotless at the last day
      Mosiah 2:27 [king Benjamin speaking]
      even so I at this time have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might be found blameless and that your blood should not come upon me when I stand to be judged of God of the things whereof he hath commanded me concerning you
      Ether 12:38
      and now I Moroni bid farewell unto the Gentiles yea and also unto my brethren whom I love until we shall meet before the judgment seat of Christ when all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood
      This language is also used by the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris):
      3 witnesses statement
      and we know that if we are faithful in Christ we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens.” (end of Skousen’s great quote)

      .
      The Holy Ghost can comfort us with that same peace as enjoyed by the above prophets. How does the Holy Ghost provide such comfort? When we obey the 4th Article of Faith (faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost), we are given gifts: additional faith, additional hope, and additional charity. When we are filled with this additional faith, hope, and charity, we feel one with the Father – which is why Jesus prayed that his disciples would be one even as He and the Father are one. This oneness bring peace.

      The Holy Ghost can provide even a small amount of peace to a non-member small boy. I remember a nightmare I had when I was a boy. I dreamed that I was playing cops and robbers at a friend’s house. In my dream I ran around the house and fell into quicksand. In my dream I yelled for help, but no one came. In my dream I was sinking deeper into the quicksand. I woke up. I was terrified. Even though I was NOT a member of the Church yet. I knelt by my bed and prayed for help. When I got back into bed, a wonderful feeling of peace and comfort came over me such that I was no longer afraid. I went to sleep and woke up the next morning. I remembered my nightmare but felt no fear. I couldn’t have explained at that time the comfort of the Holy Ghost; that insight came after I joined the Church. Can you imagine the peace that Alma the Younger felt after he repented?

      You are absolutely right in that all of us have NO inherent power to feel this peace. This peace can come only because of the Savior’s atonement and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Thus, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 59: 23 says:

      23 But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

  2. Brilliant commentary as usual from Royal. I have just a couple of comments:

    “Pleading-bar” may be an Egyptianism. That is, the phrase might very well be literally *mdt ntr “Divine-legal-plea, Rod of God.” From ancient Egyptian mdw “staff, rod” (pictured in Gardiner’s Sign List S 43), which can be used to mean “legal-plea, pleading” (mdw, mdt). Moreover, Egyptian mdw “rod, staff; word” is cognate with Ugaritic mṭ and Hebrew maṭṭē “rod, staff; tribe” (Genesis 38:18, 25). This likewise fits the broader concept of the Lord being “a staff to the righteous” in 1 Enoch 48:4, which is part of a pericope dealing with “the fountain of righteousness” (48:1). One is reminded of the “rod of iron (rod of God)” leading along a path to just such a fountain in 1 Nephi 8:20, 11:25.

    One small quibble with finding fault with use of “arrest, arested” in 0 P (Alma 13:20, 41:1) instead of correct “wrest, wrested.” The OED notes the actual archaic usage of “arrest, arested” meaning “wrested” catachrestically, thus suggesting that the mistake has august ancestry.

  3. Royal Skousen makes a very legitimate case for the reasoning behind his belief that the Book of Mormon phrase “pleasing bar” should be emended to be “pleading bar.”

    In other places, we’ve discussed how those who don’t want to believe in the reality of the divinity behind the translation of the Book of Mormon, so easily dismiss and disregard the testimony of the witnesses. It’s an interesting topic on its own as we have well-established, here and elsewhere. Not so often addressed is how subtle indications of truthfulness and veracity can manage to creep into the mix without intentionally planning for it. For instance, the phrase just addressed:
    “pleasing bar” as opposed to “pleading bar.” It is such an innocuous phrase, and hardly one worth commenting upon… …or is it? The fact that Joseph Smith orally related his words so that a scribe could write those words and potentially misunderstand, misspell or mishear what was said is, in and of itself, a subtle indication of the veracity of the Book of Mormon. Granted it may not weigh much in the “evidences” department, but still, the fact that tiny little errors could creep in, like “pleasing” rather than “pleading” helps illustrate the tenuous rapport between translator and scribe. The young Prophet did not hold within his hands a previously published or even hand-written text from which he dictated, this much is obvious.

    Also in confluence with little errors like the above stated are others, which may not be so compelling or obvious. From Royal Skousen’s “critical text” of the Book of Mormon, come many examples of singular nouns mixed with plural verbs, the use of the word which for who or whom, and many other idiosyncratic devices which are frowned upon today, but were perfectly acceptable just a century or so before Joseph’s day and several more centuries before ours.

    Rather than detract from our testimony of the veracity of the Book of Mormon, I would like to assert that these practices, so frowned upon today, are actually compelling evidences to the contrary. These idiosyncrasies which Royal Skousen has brought to our attention, actually point more toward inspiration and divine guidance to the young Prophet translator than not.

    I am exceedingly grateful to Royal Skousen for his ongoing work with regards to the critical text of the Book of Mormon. It has, indeed, proven to be a most worthwhile and worthy endeavor and one which will bring years if not decades or even centuries of enhanced study and increased understanding of the complexities inherently discoverable and eventually discernible
    behind the original text of the Book of Mormon. Gratefully, all of this prior to the eventual dissolution of the ink and the paper upon which the script was originally written.

    Royal Skousen deserves our most endearing and enduring gratitude for a job well-done.

  4. I think that the most interesting part of this article is not so much the argument around the possible misspelling of “pleading,” but how much that original manuscript is written in a manner that indicates that a scribe was listening to someone speak and writing down what that person was saying. Had Joseph had an original copy (if someone is making the argument he made it all up) then Oliver’s copy would be cross-checked side by side.

    I can’t wait until JSP Vol. 5 is released later this year, which will be the facsimiles of the original BofM manuscripts — at least what is extant.

  5. I disagree about the author’s concern about the phrase “the pleasing bar of God.” Skousen has over-complicated the phrase “the pleasing bar of God.”

    Moroni 10: 34 (the last verse in the Book of Mormon) is one of my favorite verses because of that phrase. Here is the last surviving Nephite being hunted by the Lamanites. He is closing this sacred record (the Book of Mormon). He knows that he will die soon from either natural causes or from being captured by the Lamanites. What is his last thought? His last thought cannot be to do something for his family, for they are dead. He has just completed the sacred record (the Book of Mormon) for future people. Thus, the question arises, how does he feel knowing that he is about to die and has fulfilled all that the Lord has asked him to do.

    Remember:

    Moroni initially thought he had completed the work of the Lord by completing the Book of Ether.

    ETHER 12: 36 – 39:
    36 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity.

    37 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.

    38 And now I, Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.

    39 And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;

    Then Moroni felt impressed that he had more to do, and completed the beautiful book of Moroni. Although he is the prey of a predator (the Lamanites), he felt peace as described in Ether 12 36 – 39. Moroni 10: 34 is a shortened version of what he said in Ether 12: 36 – 39, especially Ether 12: 38 – 39: “we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.

    39 And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;”

    Thus, “the pleasing bar of God” will indeed be “pleasing” for Moroni – which is the great promise to all of the righteous. I can’t think of a better way of ending the Book of Mormon.

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