There are 9 thoughts on “Alma’s Reality: Reading Alma as Sinful, Repentant, Traumatized, Questioning, and Righteous”.

  1. Sounds like a good book. Thank you for the review. I’ve often wondered about the age of Alma the younger. I suspect that there may have been a gap of some years (10? 20?) between the repentance of Alma the younger at perhaps the age of 30 and the death of his father. Still, Sister Turley’s suppositions about his age are as good as anybody’s. I’ll have to read her book.

    • Alma’s age is definitely up for debate, but I think Turley’s reading passes academic rigor. I hope you enjoy the book.

  2. Amanda Colleen Brown, thank you for this review. I am grateful for the time you took to read and understand what I was trying to say, and also grateful for the further time you took to write this review. I am certainly aware that there are other interpretations of Alma, but I think this interpretation of Alma as an older man who is sinful yet repentant, and wounded yet healing, is pertinent today. It is certainly supported by plenty of evidence. I am grateful for your ability to read with attentive care to detail and simultaneous attentive focus on the main point: to me, Alma’s story is a transformative story of the redemptive, salvific power of Jesus Christ’s atonement; after careful study, it is an even deeper, more transformative and more redemptive story than I previously thought. If readers finish my book with your understanding, I will consider it a job well done.

    • Kylie, thank you for those kind words. I always appreciate a good reinterpretation of a beloved narrative, and you did a superb job with this one! Your reading of Alma and Amulek at Ammonihah carries the emotion that should be read more often into the Book of Mormon. Thank you for that as it as deepened my love of a favorite story personally.

  3. Sister Brown,

    Thank you for your perceptive review. I am curious to read the reviewed book, for some your statements makes it seem like the author creates straw men which she then proceeds to dismantle. For, whoever supposes that Alma, at the time of his conversion, was “a wayward teenager” who had “youthful indiscretions” rather than a grown (and very sinful) man? After all, within maybe 10 years at most, he was high priest over the church, chief judge, keeper of the records, and general of the Nephite armies–not likely all coming to one “youthful!”

    Further, why cannot one place “scriptural figures on pedestals” and still “accept the need all have for Jesus Christ?” I simply do not understand why we can’t have heroes who “are untouched by doubt or despair” without thinking of them as “idols.” And despite Alma’s past, we do not need to wait until Alma 45 to learn that Alma was a righteous man. To me, Alma will, despite what seems to be the author’s intent, continue to be one of the greatest spiritual leaders in the Book of Mormon. After all, Mormon devotes nearly one-third of his record to this man Alma.

    Gerald Armstrong

    • Gerald, Your mention of “heroes” nudged my memory of a book published in 1995 by Deseret Book titled “Heroes from the Book of Mormon.” The entire volume is filled with essays by apostles and other general authorities teaching about Book of Mormon prophets, each of whom were heroes for their respective authors. Elder (now Pres.) Nelson begins with Nephi.
      Chapter 8 is by Elder L. Tom Perry, called “Alma, the Son of Alma.” I just skimmed it. Elder Perry surely seems to see him as a hero: “Alma the Younger has been a special favorite of mine” he wrote.
      Seems you are thinking like Elder Perry.

    • It’s puzzling to me that you use the phrase “wayward teenager” because that what is almost exactly the phrase Elder L. Tom Perry used in his book, Heroes from the Book of Mormon. He used the phrase “wayward youth” pg. 98. You say, “whoever supposes”, it would appear that Elder L. Tom Perry is that person who supposes. Elder Perry then talks about the “bitter course correction” for Alma. In the end if this Dennis Horne had more than “skimmed it” he would not say you “think like Elder Perry” because you are not, you two are actually talking about two different things.

      • “Wayward youth” is a common way of characterizing the Alma story. I think it’s obvious I wasn’t attacking Elder Perry’s reading. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the traditional viewpoint on the narrative, but it also doesn’t have to be the only way of reading the story. I value Turley’s work here because it proposes a reading grounded in the narrative that, to me, seems more accurate (Alma’s relatively quick succession to High Priest being the biggest factor here). If Elder Perry and others see value in a repentant teenage Alma, I think that’s useful as well.

    • Hi Gerald,

      I think the author used the straw men that already exist in Sunday School classes. She is aware of how we use Alma to teach youth about sin and repentance and how this reading is then perpetuated into adulthood. If a straw man exists, it’s in the cultural hall, not this book.

      I absolutely disagree that the author does not see Alma as a Book of Mormon hero. Her reading humanizes a life that is too often cast with a Arnold Friberg patina. In humanizing Alma, the author is attempting to showcase the story’s true depth and redemptive message, to show the reader the depths to which one can sink while still becoming a hero. What’s makes a better hero than that?

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