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 6: A Critique of the Argument for Others: “I am a Nephite” in Alma 8:20 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 6: A Critique of the Argument for Others: “I am a Nephite” in Alma 8:20

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 6: A Critique of the Argument for Others: “I am a Nephite” in Alma 8:20

John L. Sorenson:
An odd bit of behavior involving the younger Alma on his teaching tour seems to alert us to the presence of “others” at the city of Ammonihah. At that time this was a rather remote part of the land of Zarahemla in the direction of the west sea and the narrow neck of land. At first discouraged at the hostile reception he received, Alma departed, only to be ordered back by an angel (see Alma 8:14-17). When he returned he asked food of a stranger. This proved to be Amulek, whose odd reply was, “I am a Nephite” (Alma 8:20). Why would he say that? Wasn’t it obvious? Clearly Amulek had recognized Alma as a Nephite, either by his speech, his appearance, or perhaps the way he had referred to God when he opened the conversation. But to what other social or ethnic category might Amulek have belonged? His abrupt statement makes sense only if most of the people of the place were not Nephites and also if Amulek’s characteristics did not make it already apparent to Alma that he was a Nephite.

****”I am a Nephite” (Alma 8:20):
First of all, the city of Ammonihah was a Nephite city–by rule. Everyone there was a Nephite/ under Nephite rule. If one were to only admit the use of “Nephite” as a political one, as sometimes seems to be the case while reading some articles, then there is a bigger problem here than originally thought.

Let’s take a look at the situation at Ammonihah: the people of Ammonihah (at least some, though it seems like most or all is more like it) were:
1. strongly under the spirit of Satan (and Alma seemed to have understood this before going there);
2. not of the church at that time (Alma 8:12);
3. studied to destroy the liberty of Alma’s people (political or religious?) (Alma 8:17), which was
4. unlawful, both civilly and in the sight of God (Alma 8:17).
They might have been under Nephite rule but very resentful of it, and thus the studying to get out from under it, or take over the rule, or whatever. Perhaps they were a group of semi-dissenters who had followed their leader, Ammonihah.

Is it possible that they were mainly Mulekites, or another people? It doesn’t seem so–while Alma, speaking to them, asks them to REMEMBER: “the tradition of your fathers” and “the commandments of God” (Alma 9:8), he then asks them to remember how God led “OUR FATHER, LEHI” out of Jerusalem and through the wilderness (Alma 9:9); how God had “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 9:10). Alma then continues to differentiate the Ammonihahites from the Lamanites, and instead group them with the Nephites (see Alma 9:18-24), linking them–once more–to the complete Nephite history in the process.

Let’s look at verses 18 and 19 again:
We see from Alma’s experiences there that they already didn’t fear to break the laws of the land–the local judge ordered people killed, especially for just believing the word of God, and it happened according to his word.
So, Amulek might have been stressing that one who hated Nephites, or a true dissenter, or one of those very involved in the study of overthrow, or, perhaps in the best words, one who was a “true Ammonihahite” would have thrown Alma out; but he, Amulek, was a “true Nephite”–one who wanted to be faithful to the traditions and commandments of his father, Nephi, and/ or one who put the Nephites above the Ammonihahites–that is, country over city. In particular, remember that Amulek’s reply was to this question of Alma:
“And as [Alma] entered the city he was an hungered, and he said to a [Amulek]: Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?” (Alma 8:19)
Saying he was a Nephite in this context seems to say something about the spiritual side of life, not otherwise.
The following seems to support this, too:
Alma 10:2: I AM AMULEK; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was the same AMINADI who INTERPRETED THE WRITING which was upon the wall of the TEMPLE, which was WRITTEN BY THE FINGER OF GOD.
Alma 10:3: And AMINADI was a DESCENDANT OF NEPHI, WHO WAS THE SON OF LEHI, WHO CAME OUT OF THE LAND OF JERUSALEM, who was a descendant of MANASSEH, WHO WAS THE SON OF JOSEPH WHO WAS SOLD INTO EGYPT BY THE HANDS OF HIS BRETHREN.” In other words, Amulek was a straight and true descendant of Nephi–this was of lineage, not of the people of Nephi, nor political. It seems that by using this term, he implies that he is no stranger to the gospel and church, and therefore should know of spiritual things. (In Alma 10:6, Amulek says: “Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, FOR I WAS CALLED MANY TIMES AND I WOULD NOT HEAR; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart…) Similarly, Mormon says this: “And I, Mormon, BEING A DESCENDANT OF NEPHI, (and my father’s name was Mormon) I remembered the things which Ammaron commanded me.” (Mormon 1:5) Mormon somehow relates being a descendant of Nephi with remembering Ammaron’s commands. Mormon also writes: “Behold, I make an end of speaking concerning this people. I am the son of Mormon, and MY FATHER WAS A DESCENDANT OF NEPHI.” (Mormon 8:13) These all seem to imply the same thing: that being a descendant of Nephi brought up memories of Nephi and who he was and who he stood for–God and his gospel.

What if a prophet went to a group of apostates in Utah, and he met a guy who said: “I am a Mormon.” Somewhat similar, I would imagine.

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