Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, October 2

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 5 by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”
PART 5 Critique of the Argument: “Many of them are our brethren” in Alma 31:35
(c) 2004-2009

PART 5: Critique of the Argument: “Many of them are our brethren” in Alma 31:35

John L. Sorenson:
Internal Variety among the Nephites
We are not left only to supposition and inference in this matter. There are statements in the Nephite record that positively inform us that “others” were on the scene and further passages that hint at the same thing.

****We will see how “positively” we are informed in just a moment.

John L. Sorenson:
One of these statements occurs during the visit by Alma and his seven companions to the Zoramites. “Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites” (Alma 31:8). As Alma prayed about this group, he said, “O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren” (Alma 31:35). We may wonder about those whom they considered not their “brethren.” Apparently he was speaking of those who were neither Nephites, Lamanites, nor “Mulekites.” People in all those three categories are referred to in the text by Nephites as “brethren” (see, for example, Mosiah 1:5 and 7:2, 13 and Alma 24:7-8).

****Here John L. Sorenson says that we must limit usage based on the text, yet in other circumstances when it’s not convenient, we needn’t do so. Unless the text seems pretty clear that one interpretation is to be held, by multiple usage in multiple circumstances, there is no need to be extrememly strict.
We must also see if there are other times when other definitions of “brethren” are used–and yes, there are!

It’s easy for me to see in this verse that “brethren” means they were church members/ former church members who had dissented and joined nonmembers to live as Zoramites. IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.
We read in Alma 31:8 that “Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore THEY HAD HAD THE WORD OF GOD PREACHED UNTO THEM.” It’s quite reasonable, and likely, that the previous members who left the church and the major group of Nephites mixed with nonmembers and the two groups became the Zoramites; it’s difficult to imagine that every member of the Zoramites had been previous members of the church of Christ. Amulek, in Alma 34:2, says: “MY BRETHREN, I think that it is impossible that ye should be ignorant of the things which have been spoken concerning the coming of Christ, who is taught by us to be the Son of God; yea, I KNOW THAT THESE THINGS WERE TAUGHT UNTO YOU BOUNTIFULLY BEFORE YOUR DISSENSION FROM AMONG US.”

In another instance, with the people living in Ammonihah, we see that:
Alma 14:1: “And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and BEGAN TO REPENT, AND TO SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES.
It sounds like many of them still had the scriptures with them.

In further support of this point of view, let’s look at Alma 48:
Alma 48:21 “But, as I have said, in the latter end of the nineteenth year, yea, notwithstanding their peace amongst themselves, they were compelled reluctantly to contend with THEIR BRETHREN, THE LAMANITES.”
Alma 48:24 “Nevertheless, they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of THOSE WHO WERE ONCE THEIR BRETHREN, yea, and HAD DISSENTED FROM THEIR CHURCH, and had LEFT THEM AND HAD GONE TO DESTROY THEM BY JOINING THE LAMANITES.”
Here, brethren is used in two ways. First, with the Lamanites, it is used with regards to lineage; then, in verse 24, it means “church brethren”.

Also, Alma, while preaching to the people in Ammonihah, says:
Alma 9:9: Do ye not remember that OUR FATHER, LEHI, was brought out of Jerusalem by the hand of God? Do ye not remember that they were all led by him through the wilderness?
Alma 9:10: And have ye forgotten so soon how many times he delivered OUR FATHERS out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, EVEN BY THE HANDS OF THEIR OWN BRETHREN?
Alma 9:11: Yea, and if it had not been for his matchless power, and his mercy, and his long-suffering TOWARDS US, WE should unavoidably have been cut off from the face of the earth long before this period of time, and perhaps been consigned to a state of endless misery and woe.
It sounds like Alma was preaching to related descendants, not strangers or outsiders.
Also, note that in Alma 9:10, it’s “by the hands of their own brethren…”–not others.

(Similar discourse follows:
Alma 9:19: For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people (DS NOTE: “his people–” does this mean the Nephite nation, or members of the Church?). I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy all his people who are called the people of Nephi (every one of the Nephites?), if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God;
Alma 9:20: Yea, after having been such a highly favored people of the Lord; yea, after having been favored above every other nation, kindred, tongue, or people; after having had all things made known unto them, according to their desires, and their faith, and prayers, of that which has been, and which is, and which is to come;
Alma 9:21: Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation;
Alma 9:22: Yea, and after having been delivered of God out of the land of Jerusalem, by the hand of the Lord; having been saved from famine, and from sickness, and all manner of diseases of every kind; and they having waxed strong in battle, that they might not be destroyed; having been brought out of bondage time after time, and having been kept and preserved until now; and they have been prospered until they are rich in all manner of things–
Alma 9:23: And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.
Alma 9:24: For behold, the promises of the Lord are extended to the Lamanites, but they are not unto you if ye transgress; for has not the Lord expressly promised and firmly decreed, that if ye will rebel against him that ye shall utterly be destroyed from off the face of the earth?”)

And, have you ever called a nonmember who is listening to your preaching, especially an investigator, “Brother” So-and-so?
Look at how Ammon uses it in Alma 17:30-31: “And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of THOSE WHOM HE TERMED TO BE HIS BRETHREN.”
“And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: MY BRETHREN…”
As these were nonmember Lamanites, this seems to be clearly by lineage.

Then, this use of “brethren”: Alma 27:8: “And the KING [OF THE CONVERTED LAMANITES] said unto him (Ammon): Yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, WE will go down unto OUR BRETHREN, and we will be their slaves until we repair unto them the many murders and sins which we have committed against them.”
These “brethren” were Nephites; thus, the meaning that seems most plausible is “church brothers/ brothers in Christ”. Or, here it could have also meant “relatives” from Lehi.

Here is another example of “brethren”: Alma 18:6: “For he had slain many of them because THEIR BRETHREN had scattered their flocks at the place of water; and thus, because they had had their flocks scattered they were slain.

1 Comment »

  1. Comments from previous blog:

    Blogger Edward Ott ( said…

    Let me thank you for your articles on the book of mormon i have found them very interesting.
    6:51 PM
    Blogger grego said…
    You’re welcome!

    Comment by grego — 2010, June 11 @ 3:09 am

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