There are 3 thoughts on “Lehi’s Dream, Nephi’s Blueprint: How Nephi Uses the Vision of the Tree of Life as an Outline for 1 and 2 Nephi”.

  1. Brother Reynolds,

    Are you saying the chapter breaks do not matter?
    Do you think they were intentional?

    Isn’t the first step in any analysis the demarcation of units. Where rhetorical structures begin and end is critical, or things get off course. The boundaries of the units, from smallest to largest, and how sub-units are organized within larger structures are what you are talking about here. Right? I loved your article about how Nephi’s book division must be respected. Surely, there is a rhetorical purpose for his chapter divisions as well that must be respected.

    Here is an alternative way to diagram one of your examples, which changes the internal relationships slightly, and could potentially have changed the emphasis and interpretive options, as well as its meaning and place in any larger structures. I suppose any errors could then be compounded going up to the chapter and book level. Interpretive caution and discipline are hard to sustain. If Nephi is a trained scribe with a powerful command of rhetorical tools and techniques (obvious from his writings) and the book division had rhetorical significance, it seems like the chapter divisions should be respected as well.

    Alternate Diagram of 1 Nephi 1:14-15

    And it came to pass that when my father
    had read and seen many great and marvelous things,
    he did exclaim many things unto the Lord, such as:

    Great and marvelous are thy works,
    O Lord God almighty!

    Thy throne is high in the heavens,
    and thy power and goodness and mercy,
    are over all the inhabitants of the earth!

    And because thou art merciful,
    thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!

    And after this manner
    was the language of my father in the praising of his God,
    for his soul did rejoice and his whole heart was filled,
    because of the things which he had seen,
    yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.

    This organization of Nephi’s words links:

    A. What Lehi read and saw, the great and marvelous things, to
    A’ The things which Lehi had seen, which the Lord had shown unto him.

    B Lehi exclaims many things to Lord
    B’ After this manner was the language of my father…

    C Great and Marvelous works
    C’ Not suffer those who come unto thee shall perish

    D Almighty!
    D’ Merciful!

    E Heavens
    E’ Earth

    F God’s power, goodness, and mercy are over all.

    Your explanation of these verses in the article doesn’t mention the line I think Nephi specifically linked to the great and marvelous works: that God will not suffer those that come unto him to perish. I think that link adds to your argument since it matches so well something else that you did quote in your explanation (1 Ne 1:20). When two verses match so closely in thought, it always makes me wonder if they are linked somehow in some rhetorical structure? Relationships, especially when figurative aspects or types and shadows are involved, can be subjective and open to interpretation. Of all the interpretations I’ve read. I like yours the best. Can’t wait for more. Warm regards.

  2. The directness and scope of this study leaves me breathless. Well done. Just a couple of comments:

    Rather than a specifically Manassite scribal school in Jerusalem, it seems to me far more likely that both Lehi and Nephi (successively) attended a scribal school run by descendants of the formal royal scribes of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel — which is likely where the Brass Plates came with refugees fleeing south to Judah. In addition, as suggested by Stefan Wimmer when he visited BYU some years ago, Egyptian teachers may have run a scribal school in Jerusalem — in order to account for the extensive use of Egyptian at that time. And, after all, the Brass Plates and the Plates of Nephi were engraved in Egyptian. A full knowledge of cosmopolitan Egyptian rhetoric was likely passed along to both father and son.

    Since it is central to the Visions and the doctrine of the Two Ways, one might mention in passing that the Original MS of the Book of Mormon sometimes has specious and spesious (I Ne 8:26, 11:35-36) to refer to that great building, representing variously the pride of the world, the vain imaginations and pride of men, and the world and wisdom thereof. Thus, it might be worth pointing out that specious can mean “misleading in appearance, especially misleadingly attractive.” Might that even be the correct reading?

  3. Only one thing left to do: collect all of Brother Reynold’s work into one volume so it can be easily read together. Thank you for your brilliant help in glimpsing the magnificence of Nephi’s writing.

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