There are 13 thoughts on ““Most Desirable Above All Things”: Onomastic Play on Mary and Mormon in the Book of Mormon”.

  1. In the begging how Nephi and his life story quite inspired words to me. Following his fathers dream and marry all of these are very different kind of ideas but when we believe in god these things happened in the olden days.

    Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear. And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love (cf. “Mormon”); wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation. (Moroni 8:16-17)

    I love this scripture makes more sense how god loves us with his full heartily

  2. Pingback: #BOMTC 4 Nephi-Mormon 1: MORMON Should Mean “MORE GOOD” | Book of Mormon Translation Challenge

  3. Thank you, Bob, for your kind remarks and always helpful insights. I am convinced that Lehi was a scribe by training and and probably by profession. While Nephi must have received some scribal training from his father (which is what 1 Nephi 1:2 suggests to my mind), he was clearly an adept metal-smith as well. Nephi, of course, was very young when the family left Jerusalem’s environs. I certainly think it is possible and plausible that he received formal scribal training from a native Egyptian.The relationship between Nephi’s scribal abilities (including his knowledge of Egyptian) and his knowledge of metal-working must be bound up with the mystery of the brass plates–their existence and origin. Clearly, Nephi modeled his large and small plates after the brass plates. All of this raises intriguing questions about what Lehi and Nephi learned in “scribal school,” as it were. 🙂

    • I agree, Matt, and have long supposed that, as a Manassite, Lehi was a descendant of official royal court scribes who took the Brass Plates with them and fled to Jerusalem when the Assyrians conquered the kingdom of northern Israel.
      When non-Mormon scholar Stefan Wimmer lectured at BYU a couple of years ago, he suggested that some official Hebrew scribes were being trained by Egyptians either in Judah or in Egypt. All royal courts in the ancient Near East had to have fully bilingual scribes in their employ.

  4. Thanks, Matt, for another nice article on paronomasia in the Book of Mormon. Just a couple of reactions:
    –in note 5, I prefer to go along with Brant Gardner in imagining that both Lehi and Nephi are formally trained scribes, perhaps trained at different times by native Egyptian teachers.
    –one might also want to compare Egyptian mr “lake, pool, stream,” and Mr-mnˁ the name of a celestial lake from which the blessed drank, similar to the “waters of Mormon” in Mosiah (18:8,16,30, 25:18), and Alma (5:3). An additional opportunity for punning.

  5. Every Friday another great article:

    Page 44 “And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable desirous above all other fruit,” 1 Nephi 8:12).

    Should read: “And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.”

    • Thank you, Steve! And thank you for giving the paper a close reading. 🙂 The proper words are now stricken through in the online version as they appear in the printed text of the article.

  6. I have enjoyed Matt Bowen’s work, probably because I also a bit of a passion for wordplay, though I do not have even half the knack he does for finding them in the scriptures. (Though I guess his having relevant academic training in Egyptian and Hebrew and Greek kind of helps.)

    Anyway, I thought the link between “Mary” and “love” and “desire” in Nephi’s reports of his father’s dream and his vision was of particular interest. Dana Pike has stated, “ancient Near Eastern dream reports regularly display various types of linguistic and literary wordplay, and sometimes even visual or orthographic punning based on the use of particular hieroglyphs or cuneiform signs. Words, and even the forms in which they were written, were considered by the ancients to be “vehicles of power.” Thus, punning and other types of wordplay in dream reports and their interpretations were thought to “limit that power by restricting the parameters of a dream’s interpretation. The dream [could not] now mean anything, but only one thing.” (Dana M. Pike, “Lehi Dreamed a Dream: The Report of Lehi’s Dream in Its Biblical Context,” in The Things Which My Father Saw: Approaches to Lehi’s Dream and Nephi’s Vision, THE 40TH ANNUAL SIDNEY B. SPERRY SYMPOSIUM, ed. Daniel L. Belnap, Gaye Strathearn, and Stanley A. Johnson (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center/Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 99, brackets added by Pike.) This suggests that the word plays on the Egyptian mry, along with word plays on ashre previously proposed by Dan Peterson, are there to aid in the interpretation of the dreams symbolism. Thus, uncovering them is paramount to properly understanding the meaning and message of the dream.

    This also makes that fact that they are actually there all the more impressive: What are the odds that Joseph Smith’s own random word choice would so appropriately use word plays that can enhance the meaning of the text, and in the very literary contexts (such as dream reports) where they would be most expected?

    Thanks for the great paper!

    • Thank you for your kind remarks, Neal! Those are excellent thoughts and insights. Wordplay serves as a “vehicle of power” in Amos’s vision reports in Amos 7:7-8 and 8:1-2. It also serves as a “vehicle of power” in the reports of Mesopotamian extispicy omens. One should never underestimate their importance in ancient texts, in my opinion.

      • Alma 7:10 says: “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.”

        It is interesting (and coincidental) in that the prophesy this is based upon hinges on a Hebrew word “Alma” in Isaiah 7:14 which means simply “young woman” but not necessarily a virgin, as it also applies to newlyweds. In Alexandria, the Greek translation of this passage was rendered with “parthenos” which definitely does mean virgin. So we end up with an anachronism in the Book of Alma, because the Lehi project would have only had access to the original Hebrew, not the Greek distortion.

        • The fact that there was a Greek translation that had a different meaning from the original Hebrew (and one followed in the KJV) should help understand that what a translator uses to render an original is a lexical choice, not an anachronism. Anachronisms in translations say something bout the nature of the translation, or of the translator–but don’t say anything at all about the original.

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