Printed Journal Welcome to Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, the peer-reviewed journal of The Interpreter Foundation, a nonprofit, independent, educational organization focused on the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Non-print versions of our journal are available free of charge, with our goal to increase understanding of scripture. Our latest papers can be found below.

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Dear Interpreter Foundation Supporters,

The same quality film-making team that produced Witnesses, Interpreter’s highly successful and award-winning movie about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, is producing Six Days in August, a compelling movie about the succession crisis after Joseph Smith’s martyrdom. We seek your support to enable us to complete this movie and release it in theaters in October.

Here’s why this project is so important and why we need your support:

Six Days in August will portray the dramatic but relatively little known story of that crucial succession decision in 1844. It will show how Brigham Young and the quorum that he led came to be recognized by a large majority of Latter-day Saints as the Lord’s chosen leadership for the Church after the death of Joseph Smith.

This story is vitally important today. The members of the Quorum of the Twelve have led the Church, and senior apostles have presided over it, ever since those dramatic days in early August 1844. Attacks on the legitimacy of the Twelve’s assumption of leadership over the Church in 1844 are, whether deliberately or not, attacks on today’s apostolic authority.

We began filming in September 2023 at sites in Canada, upstate New York, and at the LDS Motion Picture Studios in Provo. We have recently finished filming our final scenes. Gifts from generous donors have paid for filming, but there are still considerable expenses to prepare Six Day in August as a finished project ready for theatrical release.

Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to help us raise the $256,000 we need to fund post-production efforts, associated with cutting raw footage, assembling that footage, standardizing and enhancing the color of the footage, adding music, dubbing, and sound effects.

We seek your support now to help us cross the finish line to bring this entertaining, informative, and inspiring story to hundreds of thousands of people.

Here is an entertaining video clip that features scenes from the movie and interviews with its actors.

vimeo.com/880637147/76c80d1778?share=copy

For further background, please review the movie’s website at sixdaysinaugust.com on which you can also make an online donation.

You can also make checks out payable to:

Six Days in August Productions
P.O. Box 970542
Orem, UT 84097

Thank you for supporting The Interpreter Foundation over the years and for your dedication to defending the Faith.

Sincerely,

Daniel C. Peterson
President, The Interpreter Foundation

P.S. If you have questions, please contact Ed Snow at esnow23@gmail.com or 801-592-1750.

A Celebration for George Mitton

7:00 pm, Friday, May 10, 2024
4146 North University Ave., Provo (Legacy Village)

on the occasion of the publishing of

Joseph Smith and Our Preparation for the Lord’s Final Judgment:
Essays by George L. Mitton

Published by The Interpreter Foundation in cooperation with Eborn Books

Available Now on Amazon

For more information, go to
https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/joseph-smith-and-our-preparation-for-the-lords-final-judgment/

An Analysis of the Financial Incentives in Attacking the Restoration

Abstract: With the popularity of social media growing exponentially, prominent critics of the Church are leveraging the platforms, particularly YouTube, as a key resource to produce thousands of negative videos about the Church. The accusations made in the videos about Church history, leadership, doctrine, and culture are so numerous that it could take months or even years to research fully, all while the flood of new content continues. It is easy for those exposed to the accusations to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume and, therefore, assume at least some of it must be true. This could place at least some members on a path to a faith crisis. While many members understand the need to seek information from reliable sources to cope with such accusations, for some it may also be of value to consider the financial incentives for the extensive hostile content being created. In this paper the business models and apparent revenue of several influential organizations are considered, which may help explain why the content, especially video content, is being produced in such volume. Financial incentives, of course, do not necessarily call a work into question but can be of interest in seeking to understand behaviors and the relationship between business models and organizational output and success.

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“Armed with Righteousness and with the Power of God”: Allusions to Priestly Clothing, Priesthood, and Temple in 1 Nephi 14:14

Abstract: Nephi saw in vision that in the latter-days “the saints of the church of the Lamb” and “covenant people of the Lord” who, though scattered across the earth, “were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14). Nephi’s prophetic statement is loaded with meaning. This study explores how “armed with righteousness” means “clothed with righteousness” (Psalm 132:9) not merely in a martial, but also in a priestly sense (compare 1 Samuel 17:5; Isaiah 59:17). This concept relates to the latter-day temple and its ordinances, which enable the Lord’s people to “go forth” from the temple “armed with [the Lord’s] power” with his “name . . . upon them, and [his] glory be round about them” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:22). When we consider the spiritual power and protection associated with being “armed” or “clothed with righteousness,” we can better appreciate the value of temple ordinances that involve clothing or investiture. These ordinances help us “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”—investing the recipients with the priestly power of Christ’s Atonement, which authorizes them to do his work, enables them to withstand temptation, and enables them to stand in the spiritual battles of mortal life.

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The Seven Women Seeking the Bridegroom: Isaiah 4:1 as Transition Point in a Redemption Allegory

Abstract: Nephi laboriously copied many of the words of Isaiah in hopes that his readers would rejoice in Christ. While Isaiah 4:1 (2 Nephi 14:1) is generally not viewed as Messianic, there may be an allegorical interpretation that would place this verse among Isaiah’s other Messianic writings. A pre-Nicene patristic writer, Victorinus of Poetovio, interpreted the seven women of Isaiah 4:1 as representing the seven churches of the Apocalypse and the one man as Christ. Victorinus’s Christ-centered interpretation of Isaiah 4:1 has received very little attention in modern scholarship. This paper uses textual analysis to determine if a Christ-centered allegorical interpretation may be considered a strong reading of the verse and the surrounding text (Isaiah 3–4). The results of this analysis show that Isaiah 4:1 may symbolize Zion’s turning point in a doctrinally rich allegory of Zion’s sin, sorrow, repentance, and redemption through Jesus Christ.

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The Eucharist of the Latter-day Saints:
The Sacrament in the Broader Christian Context

Abstract: This paper views the sacrament prayers and rituals of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the broader context of Christian eucharistic worship, focusing on how the Latter-day Saint observances both resemble and differ from those of other Christian communities. It argues that, contrary to what is often supposed, the Church has a relatively “high” eucharistic theology.

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“One Drop of Salvation from the House of Majesty”: An Analysis of the Revelation of the Magi and Restoration Scripture

Abstract: An early Christian text called the Revelation of the Magi presents itself as a history of the Magi before and after the birth of Jesus Christ. This text offers important insights into how the early Christian world may have conceptualized how other nations outside of Israel similarly looked forward to the advent of the Messiah, how they worshiped God, and how they knew who their Savior would be. The Book of Mormon similarly presents itself as text written by early believers in Jesus Christ. It is centered primarily around two civilizations outside the land of Israel who knew who Jesus was, worshiped him, and prophesied about him. Both texts begin with similar premises, and each shares a remarkable level of consistency in matters of doctrine and narrative. Furthermore, the Revelation of the Magi contains citations from a book of Adam that have striking similarities to details revealed in other Restoration scripture regarding Adam and his children. While the Revelation of the Magi is not scripture, it is nonetheless a text that many modern readers will find beneficial in highlighting beliefs of early Christians.

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Mormon and Moroni’s Rhetoric: Reflections Inspired by Grant Hardy’s Understanding the Book of Mormon

Abstract: Grant Hardy has shown that Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni have distinctive personalities, rhetorical strategies, implied readers, and thematic concerns. Mormon lived within history and wrote as a historian. He focused on the particulars of time and place and person, on political and military matters. But, Hardy says, Mormon lacked audience awareness. I argue Mormon’s historiography was well adapted to the needs of his initial envisioned audience, the Alma family. Moroni, who lived most of his life outside of history, wrote intertextually, in dialog with voices speaking from the dust. And he wrote as a theologian especially attuned to the tragedy of human existence without God. Unlike his father, Moroni was a reluctant and, initially, untrained writer. His initial lack of confidence and competence and his growth as a writer and as a person are apparent in the five different endings for the Book of Mormon that he successively inscribed over the course of his life. Moroni’s ultimate model as he so effectively closed the large-plates record was Amaleki, last author of the small plates. This article critiques Hardy’s assessment of Mormon’s and extends his account of Moroni’s rhetorical effectiveness.

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“That They May Once Again Be a Delightsome People”: The Concept of Again Becoming the Seed of Joseph (Words of Mormon 1:8 and
Mormon 7:4–5)

Abstract: In Words of Mormon 1:8, Mormon declares, “And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people.” The expression “that they may once again” plausibly reflects the Hebrew idiom wayyôsipû or wayyôsipû ʿôd. Mormon’s apparent double-use of the wayyôsipû (ʿôd) idiom in Words of Mormon 1:8 (or some Nephite scribal equivalent), like 2 Nephi 5:2–3, recalls language in the Joseph story (Genesis 37:5, 8). The original Lamanite covenant, as an extension of the Abrahamic covenant, involved the complete abandonment of fraternal hatred and the violent means through which they had given expression to it (see Alma 24:12–13; 15–18); Mormon declared that a similar commitment would again be necessary when the descendants of Lehi (“the remnant of this people who are spared,” Mormon 7:1) were restored to the covenant in the future (Mormon 7:4–5). Thus, Mormon’s prayer—in the tradition of the prayers of Nephi, Enos, and others—is that the descendants of the Lamanites (and Nephite dissenters) would, through iterative divine action, regain their covenant identity as the seed of Joseph and partakers of the Abrahamic covenant.

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Review of Two New Theories about the Lamanite Mark Recently Presented in Two Different Forums

Abstract: T. J. Uriona has offered two new theories about the meaning of Nephi’s term “skin of blackness” in 2 Nephi 5:21. He suggests that Nephi’s term may indicate impending death and/or it may be a literal reference to diseased or deathly skin. Both theories are based on a motif in an ancient Neo-Assyrian treaty that curses people to have skin as black as pitch and crude oil. I submit that these two theories are inconsistent with the larger context in the Book of Mormon.

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An Exceptional Example of
the Richness of Church History

Review of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Emer Harris & Dennison Lott Harris: Owner of the First Copy of the Book of Mormon, Witness of the “Last Charge” of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2023). 235 pages, 67 illustrations, appendix, references, $29.00 (paperback).

Abstract: Jeffrey Bradshaw has, in a single well-researched volume, provided a gift to those interested in the lives of early Church members. In Emer Harris & Dennison Lott Harris, Bradshaw brings out of obscurity the remarkable life of one of Martin Harris’s brothers and illustrates the contribution of that life to the initial decades of the Restoration.

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The Unwritten Debates in Moroni1’s Letter

Abstract: Moroni1’s letter in Alma 60 is not simply an angry and intemperate screed against the government; it also responds to arguments about just tactics (what modern readers would call ethics) taking place among Nephite leaders at this time. Moroni1’s letter argues for his preferred strategies of active defense and ambush, while interpreting defeat as a failure of leaders. His rhetorical strategy is particularly noteworthy for associating his Nephite opponents’ hopeful trust in the Lord with the passive resistance of the king-men, and shifting blame for defeat away from his strategies and onto his political opponents. Overall, Moroni1’s arguments exemplify sophistication and debate within Nephite thought.

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“Our Great God Has in Goodness Sent These”: Notes on the Goodness of God, the Didactic Good of Nephi’s Small Plates, and Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s Renaming

Abstract: Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s speech (Alma 24:7–16) reveals multiple allusions to significant texts in Nephi’s small plates record. Thus, when he declares “I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us,” he appears to allude to an inclusio that bookends the two books of Nephi’s small plates record which emphasizes the “goodness” of God as a theme. Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s description of his ancestors as “wicked fathers” appears to deliberately contrast Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael with Nephi’s “goodly parents” in 1 Nephi 1:1. The name Nephi constitutes a key element in Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s own name, a name honorifically bestowed on him as a throne-name by his father. In view of the probable etymological origin of Nephi as Egyptian nfr (“good,” “goodly,” “fair”) and its evident, persistent association with “good” among the Nephites, Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s naming and the introduction to his speech deserve closer examination. This article explores the possible significance of this naming in conjunction with the Lamanites’ reception of divine “goodness” in the contexts of Nephite/Lamanite history and the Lamanite conversion narratives.

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The Plagiary of the Daughters of the Lamanites

Abstract: Repetition is a feature of all ancient Hebraic narrative. Modern readers may misunderstand this quality of biblical and Book of Mormon narrative. Biblical and Book of Mormon writers believed that history repeated, with what happened to the ancestors happening again to their posterity. Fawn Brodie and her acolytes misapprehend Book of Mormon narrative when—instead of at least provisionally granting that God might exist, can intervene in history, and tenaciously reenacts events from the past while the recorders of such repeated stories firmly believed in the historical reality of the narratives they recounted—they attribute such repeated stories to Joseph Smith’s imputed plagiaristic tendencies. The story of the kidnapping of the Lamanite daughters by the priests of Noah (Mosiah 20) is a recurrence of the story of the mass kidnapping of the daughters of Shiloh (Judges 21), but to attribute such similarity to plagiarism by Joseph Smith is a grand and flagrant misreading of Hebraic narrative, its persistent allusive qualities, and its repetitive historiography. Such narratives were widespread in Levantine and classical antiquity, and neither ancient historians nor modern scholars take the relationship among such analogous stories to be one of plagiarism when their antiquity is undisputed. At least one additional construal of the Book of Mormon story’s meaning needs to be explored and considered against the backdrop of Hebraic narrative.

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Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!

Abstract: There is no more important message than that of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s life-transforming and world-transforming. It is also the most joyous news imaginable. What Jesus did on our behalf leaves us forever in his debt and should put him at the center of our lives.

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King Benjamin’s Sermon as a Type of Temple Endowment

Abstract: To more permanently unify the Mulekites and the Nephites as a reunited kingdom of Israel, King Benjamin gathered his people at the temple, and in his role as a king and priest after the order of Melchizedek, imparted teachings that bear resemblance to the Latter-day Saint temple endowment ceremony first introduced in Nauvoo. Several of these similarities are explored in depth. Since the book of Mosiah is one of the earliest extant texts of Joseph Smith’s prophetic ministry, this finding adds to a growing body of literature that suggests that temple themes are apparent in the unfolding Restoration earlier than has been commonly recognized. King Benjamin’s sermon also provides a model for how the latter-day covenant people of the Lord can establish a modern “kingdom of priests” in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

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Premortal Life and Mortal Life:
A Fearful Symmetry

Abstract: Bodily weakness, along with the varied circumstances into which we were born, provide the essential initial and ongoing conditions that shape the challenges and opportunities of our mortal probation. In life, we are not expected merely to preserve our innocence in defiance of worldly tendencies, nor are we compelled to cede to cynicism in the face of disheartening earthly experience. Rather, we are meant to follow the Savior in uniting the state of innocence with that of experience, thus joyfully fulfilling the unique mission that has been generously given to each of us.

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Recovering the Lost Concept of Truth in the Restoration Scriptures: Another Key to Understanding God’s Word

Abstract: The word “truth” has for practical purposes lost one of its original English-language meanings, and this has significant implications for understanding scriptures. The obvious, well-understood meaning is that which is real or factual. However, the earliest meaning in English is that which is true in an entirely different way, in the sense of fidelity, loyalty, and faithfulness. The King James translators frequently used “truth” in this latter sense. The sense of “truth” as “faithfulness” remained well known in the nineteenth century. Some passages in the Book of Mormon and other Restoration scriptures reveal deeper insights when read with this understanding. Pondering both meanings of “truth” in the scriptures can serve as a source of inspiration and learning.

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Proper Names and Political Claims: Semitic Echoes as Foundations for Claims to the Nephite Throne

Abstract: The Book of Mormon contains examples of phonemes in character names that resemble Semitic root words. The possible meanings of the names and their timing in the Book of Mormon narrative provide a deeper level of context to the Nephite political challenges in the books of Mosiah through 3 Nephi. Specifically, the English phonemes for the Hebrew and Arabic root-word for “king,” M-L-K, appear in character names in the Book of Mormon narrative when the people of Zarahemla, who were descended from Mulek, the last king of Judah, are discovered by the Nephites in the book of Omni. “King” names then appear frequently during the time in the narrative in which there are attempts to reestablish a monarchy during the early reign of the judges. “King” names disappear after “Moroni put an end to those king-men, that there were not any known by the appellation of king-men” (Alma 51:21, 62:9). The presence and timing of these “king” names suggests that the Mulekite claim to the local Israelite throne resonated rhetorically through Nephite politics for over a century and was violently contested in the multiple civil and external wars in the books of Alma through 3 Nephi.

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Prophet or Loss: Mosiah1/Zeniff, Benjamin/Noah, Mosiah2/Limhi and the Emergence of the Almas

Abstract: Mormon’s overwhelmingly dominant rhetorical purpose is to testify of Christ, which he and his protagonists often directly do. But he also communicates his testimony more subtly through carefully crafted historical narratives. His use of frame narratives is especially artful. In the Book of Mosiah, Mormon frames the dispiriting account of Zeniff and Noah’s rule with the story of its aftermath: the suffering of Limhi and his people, which is recounted both before and after the central Zeniff/Noah narrative and which underscores the folly in the narrative it frames. The Limhi story is, in turn, framed by a Mosiah family narrative that features prophet kings Mosiah1, Benjamin, and Mosiah2 and that, likewise, underscores the folly in the Zeniff/Noah/Limhi story through pointed contrasts with Mosiah1/Benjamin/Mosiah2, the antitypes of the Zeniff-family kings. Benjamin’s great discourse on Christ, the most important component of the Mosiah narrative is also set within a frame narrative, a coronation account, which creates a political subtext in that great spiritual sermon and that, likewise, underscores the folly of the Zeniff family’s failure to follow the prophets God sent them. The article concludes by discussing the emergence of the Almas as the first family of Nephite history, the connecting thread that runs through Mormon’s account of the next ten generations of Nephite history.

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Trees and the Love of God

Abstract: Trees play real and metaphorical roles in the beliefs and holy scriptures of many world religions, and believers and non-believers throughout the world are uplifted spiritually by trees. In the Book of Mormon, a tree with delicious, sweet fruit appeared in two visions and one parable. Respectively, the tree represents the love of God as seen through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and symbolizes spiritual growth as one experimentally nourishes faith from a seed. Trees and fruit in the world around us can remind us of important lessons from these teachings and help keep us focused on the Lord because trees embody godly attributes and illustrate righteous principles. Trees and God’s love are universal, meant to be dispersed, beautiful, long-lasting or eternal, strong, gifts, providers of bounty, givers of joy, and sources of shelter and comfort. From trees, we learn to shun pride, have proper priorities, be patient and persevering, keep growing spiritually, be well-rooted, and pursue spirituality. Trees kindle awe, reverence, and love in us. Whenever we see a tree or eat fruit or nuts from a tree, we can be reminded of God’s love and to choose righteousness. Trees can inspire us to continue nurturing our spiritual growth; by doing so, our lives can be monumental like trees.

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Second Nephi as a Legal Document

Abstract: Considering conventions of the ancient Near East, 2 Nephi can be understood as a legal document or legal archive. Factors supporting this view include 1) Nephi’s allusions to sealing the record and to a bar of judgment, 2) discussion of the law of witnesses and reference to Isaiah and Jacob as witnesses, 3) components and formatting consistent with Neo-Babylonian depositions and plaintiff statements, 4) uncharacteristically formal and conservative (high-fidelity) citations of Isaiah, and 5) rhetoric and vocabulary consistent with the Judean legal genre. Nephi’s inclusion of Jacob’s and Isaiah’s words as a witness and his references to judicial procedure can be readily understood. Further, the structure of 2 Nephi, consistent with legal conventions of the time, can be viewed as collated texts that contain a covenant framing the Nephite’s situation (2 Nephi 1–4), a reaction (2 Nephi 4–5), three supporting witness statements (2 Nephi 6–10, 12–24, 25–28), and finally a plaintiff statement (2 Nephi 33). Recognizing the legal implications of 2 Nephi can help us appreciate Nephi’s agenda as author and editor of his text, as well as the meaning of his document in our day.

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