There are 6 thoughts on “Alma’s Prophetic Commissioning Type Scene”.

  1. Great article. I’ve been a big fan of your research over the years, and this article provides a valuable contribution to the field.

    Just a few thoughts on the specifics of Alma’s conversion as it relates to the eight elements of the standard prophetic call. In regard to the Protest, I think the words of the angel in Mosiah 27:15 are noteworthy: “And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.”

    We don’t get Alma directly protesting. What we do get is the angel preemptively nipping any such protest in the bud. (Perhaps Alma did protest and it simply isn’t recorded, but to me that seems the less likely option considering the frightening nature of the divine confrontation.) The angel rhetorically asking Alma “can ye dispute” seems particularly relevant. In effect, he is saying “can ye protest, doubt, debate, or contend with my message.” The answer to which was clearly no! Notice how the Lord’s response to Moses similarly utilizes a series of rhetorical questions that appeal to self-evident divine qualities as a way to discredit the rationale of the Protester: “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11).

    Thus, the clearest manifestation of the Protest element in the narrative in Mosiah 27 may, ironically, be the angel explicitly telling Alma (in a response that may intentionally hark back to the Moses call narrative) that any sort of “disputation” (i.e., Protest) on Alma’s part would be futile.

    To me, correlating the Protest element with this passage in Mosiah 27:15 is more fitting than the options of Mosiah 27:30 or Alma 36:13 (as listed in your chart on p. 133). This is because the rebellion discussed in those verses is of a more general (and temporarily prior) nature and not so closely related to the divine confrontation itself. Even if you disagree, hopefully my comments add another layer of insight to this element of Alma’s conversion/call narrative.

    • Thank you for your comments, Ryan. I wish I had thought of this keen insight provided by your close attention to the text. The divine or angelic response to the prophet’s objection is customarily reassurance, but this passage instead has the messenger anticipate and forestall the protest of unworthiness. Thanks.

  2. Grateful that you wrote this paper, Bro. Goff! I wrote a small response to this criticism for FAIR a while back ( and didn’t see a lot of literature engaging it in a more critical/scholarly way. I thought about asking around to see if someone would write a paper like this about it but decided against it. So, again, grateful you did this paper and are doing this series! I actually have another small article that responds to this criticism from Brodie ( Your material on this question in 1991 was very helpful for me in answering parts of it!

    • Thanks for the comments, Spencer, and the links that show we have been working on parallels lines of reasoning. Book of Mormon narrative deserves much stronger readings than it normally gets. I am trying to reshape such reading approaches by framing such readings under the heading of Hebraic narrative so that not only are the particular stories read side-by-side but the form of textuality the text asserts for itself is the framework in which the narratives are compared–the notion of allusion/intertextuality that I argue for. Of the five narratives Brodie singles out as plagiarized from the Bible, three have been submitted (which includes the one published this week) for publication, I will submit a fourth this week, and the fifth I am composing the introduction to (but the rest of the article is written). Over the next year or so I will have expanded this argument extensively taking up the best examples Brodie can offer of stories “plagiarized” from the Bible.

      • I do have a question about the parallels. Do you think that are important to engage at all? Because what would really seem to push me over the edge in terms of affirming more confidently that Joseph didn’t plagiarize Alma would be the same parallels being able to be drawn between Paul/Alma and a source that shared parallels with them that predates them and especially a source that predates Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem. But maybe the parallels don’t matter as much as establishing a perhaps more generic type-scene connection between Alma and Paul? I’m not nearly as well read on this so I’ll defer to your authority but it is a curious sort that comes back every once in a while.

        • In demonstrating that Paul’s prophetic commissioning follows the type scene of prophetic stories in the Hebrew Bible, I assert that Paul’s story is not original, and that is the point of a type scene. Acts places Paul in the line of Old Testament prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, Ezekiel, and many others. So I think you and I are making the point. The expectation of originality is the wrong measure to apply to Alma’s prophetic commissioning scene. The problem with expecting narratives in the New Testament or Book of Mormon to be sui generis is that ancient Hebraic writers had the opposite expectation: events from the past repeat according to a divine pattern. If we miss that message, we have misunderstood the Bible and the Book of Mormon and the techniques by which Hebraic narrative operates.

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