Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2012, September 12

“Book of Mormon: Idolatry among the Zoramites and Gnosticism (Alma 31-Alma 32-Alma 33-Alma 34-Alma 35; Alma 39-42)” by grego

Book of Mormon: Idolatry among the Zoramites and Gnosticism (Alma 31-Alma 32-Alma 33-Alma 34-Alma 35; Alma 39-42)

grego
(c) 2012

It’s interesting that “dumb idols” are mentioned as the first thing about the Zoramites, but after that it seems there’s no more mention of it. Later in the same chapter (Alma 31), there’s a lot more about why the Zoramites are in apostasy (law of Moses, beliefs about God, praying to God, etc.)… almost like there’s an entire disconnect here. What’s going on? Are there idols? If so, where are they? What religion is going on?

Incredibly, the Zoramites are very similar to another religion from almost 2,000 years ago—the Gnostics. I doubt Joseph Smith knew much about that group… (NOTE: By “Gnosticism” I usually mean the Gnosticism that opposed early Christianity, not semi-modern, modern, or very past. Even then there was not one school of thought and worship, but many, and they sometimes varied greatly from each other. I have tried to quote/ gather from that type of gnosticism; if I have faulted, I apologize; I can’t get to a great university library and research, for example, and even if I could, in all honesty, for this article I wouldn’t. I studied a research book on it years ago, and am limited now to the first few pages of internet search results.) This Gnosticism tangent started off a whole new line, but I can’t follow it far, so I present this more for thought stimulation than a completed article.

With all the references to Gnosticism, there is no proof or even evidence that that is the religion among the Zoramites; it is just a “look at parallels and similar thinking”, that such a religion is not only possible, but has, in parts, existed throughout history.

Here is the introduction we get to the situation:
Alma 31:1 NOW it came to pass that after the end of Korihor, Alma having received tidings that the Zoramites were perverting the ways of the Lord, and that Zoram, who was their leader, was leading the hearts of the people to bow down to dumb idols, his heart again began to sicken because of the iniquity of the people.

In addition, it seems they received reports saying that:
Alma 31:9 But [the Zoramites] had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses.
Alma 31:10 Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation.
Alma 31:11 Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them.

They also later find out:
Alma 31:23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.

It continues:
Alma 31:12 Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld;

Synagogues were not new:
Alma 16:13 And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews.

So why are Alma and his group astonished? Was it because they knew about the idols, and the changes, but maybe they hadn’t realized there was still “religion” in a somewhat recognizable form? There were still synagogues. There was still Sabbath worship; prayer. And, there were no idols in the synagogue.
At the same time, there was no teaching, no discussion, no hymns, no guidance of the Spirit, no sacrifice, no commandments–just one rote prayer.

Here’s about the Zoramite worship:
Alma 31:13 For they had a place built up in the {center of their synagogue}, a place for standing, which was {high above the head}; and the top thereof would {only admit one person} (all things that add to “special”ness).
Alma 31:21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is {the holy stand (a holy object, a special place of worship, much like the temple)}.
Alma 31:20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
Alma 31:14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and {stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice}, saying:
Alma 31:15 {Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy}, and that {thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever (doctrine close, but not quite–perhaps this is a jab at the doctrine of Jesus having a body)}.
Alma 31:16 {Holy God}, we believe that {thou hast separated us from our brethren (here’s the “you’re special” part)}; and {we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers (another “you’re special and smart” part}; but we believe that {thou hast elected us to be thy holy children (more “you’re special”, and “don’t worry about commandments”)}; and also {thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ (special revelation that the believers don’t know)}.
Alma 31:17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and {thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell}; {for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee (gratitude)}; and we also thank thee that {thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren (before it was “childishness”, now it’s “foolishness”)}, {which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God (belief is binding; belief in Christ leads away from God; exactly what Korihor was preaching!)}.
Alma 31:18 And again {we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people (gratitude; yet more “you’re special”}. Amen.

Compare that to how true Nephite believers worshipped:
Alma 15:17 Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing … that the people … began to humble themselves before God, and began to {assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries} {to worship God} {before the altar}, {watching and praying continually}, {that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction}–

This Zoramite worship seems to be a perversion of both true believer Sabbath worship, special even worship, and temple worship. (See also “Temple Prayer in Ancient Times”, by John A. Tvedtnes; http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=21&chapid=105).

The result:
Alma 31:19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure.

Instead of worshiping God before the altar, the Zoramites put themselves on the altar/ holy stand, but there is no sacrifice or holiness in doing so!

See how this could relate to Gnosticism:
“In contrast, gnostics considered martyrdom by orthodox Christians to be an act of suffering for an hour to purchase eternal life an offering to God in the form of a human sacrifice that demeaned God by casting him as a cannibal. It was as if the original Christian ideal of living in the present, for the present, had been perverted into the ultimate pagan sacrifice so that your own life would be sacrificed to buy an eternal afterlife in paradise” (http://milo-books.com/reviews/nonfiction/philosophy_and_religion/the_gnostic_gospels.html).

See also how the doctrine of this prayer matches this of the Gnostics:
“the early Christian Church, which, [the Gnostics] claimed, were only common deceptions, unsuited for the wise (foolishness, childishness of the beliefs of the true believers). The truth was esoteric. Only the properly initiated could appreciate it. It belonged to a secret tradition which had come down through certain mystery schools (revealed to them by God). The truth was, God could never become man (spirit from beginning to end). There were two separate realms — one spiritual, the other material (http://www.naderlibrary.com/lit.godsbeasts.14.htm).”

There are a few similarities with Essenes:
“Cassian tells us that the first prayer precedes the prostration. He calls this the “oratio”. The second prayer following the prostration, he calls “preces”. He says that in it the monks stand with outstretched hands (a symbol of supplication) and offer such until a collect, or group prayer conclusion, is chanted by the cantor on behalf of the whole assembly. All these practices are reminiscent of Gnostic liturgy and ritual” (http://www.essenes.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=275&Itemid=361).

The Zoramite prayer is a Prayer of Thanksgiving:
Alma 31:23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.

Compare that to this Prayer of Thanksgiving, from the Nag Hammadi:
“We give thanks to You! Every soul and heart is lifted up to You, undisturbed name, honored with the name ‘God’ and praised with the name ‘Father’, for to everyone and everything (comes) the fatherly kindness and affection and love, and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain, giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge: mind, so that we may understand You, speech, so that we may expound You, knowledge, so that we may know You. We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge. We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself. We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge.
‘The thanksgiving of the man who attains to You is one thing: that we know You. We have known You, intellectual light. Life of life, we have known You. Womb of every creature, we have known You. Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You. Eternal permanence of the begetting Father, thus have we worshiped Your goodness. There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: that we not stumble in this kind of life.’

When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in it” (http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/prat.html).

It seems Zoram has a plan to: a) change the original religion, and b) add/ substitute another god in place of Jesus Christ. He hasn’t converted everyone all the way, but is leading them in the process. This process, however, seems to be different than the majority of instances of idolatry recorded in the Old Testament (actually Brass Plates) that the Nephites had—perhaps yet another reason for the astonishment.

Many of these people were true believers at one time:
Alma 31:8 Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore they had had the word of God preached unto them.
Alma 31:34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
Alma 31:35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.

Perhaps Zoram (correctly) thought that to “make” someone change religion from a strict form of commandments and ordinances (law of Moses and Melchizedek priesthood) to a more liberal yet custom-filled form, you must either completely destroy what they have learned, or keep some of it, but add in changes and especially a “you’re special” part (this exact method worked for a Seventy on my relative’s relative while he was a missionary).

It seems that the second is what Zoram did, and maybe that was part of the astonishment, too.

And so Alma and the others pray and preach.

Is there anything about idols in all that?? No, I don’t think there is. So what part does idols have to play in all this?

In Alma’s prayer, he says:
Alma 31:29 Yea, and they say that thou hast made it known unto them that there shall be no Christ.
Alma 31:30 O Lord God, how long wilt thou suffer that such wickedness and {infidelity} shall be among this people? O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm, and such wickedness among this people doth pain my soul.
Alma might see a connection between idolatry and adultery, both of which are infidelity.

Later there is this:
Alma 32:4 Now, as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah…
Why is Alma (and some Zoramites) on the hill Onida?
I think it was because that is where the idols were, and the Zoramites were there worshiping them.
I don’t think those Zoramites were paying too much attention to what he was saying:
Alma 32:4 Now, as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah, there came a great multitude unto him…
Alma 32:5 And they came unto Alma; and the one who was the foremost among them said unto him: Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do?
Alma 32:6 And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.
Alma 32:7 Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude; but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent, and said unto them…

But why would they have to worship God in a synagogue, if they had idols on the hills? And vice-versa? What was going on with this religion? They were kicked out because they were poor–maybe it wasn’t just that they looked bad, but they couldn’t “put money on the plate”/ buy religious things. (Remember in the end why Alma and his group were rejected:
Alma 35:3 And it came to pass that after the more popular part of the Zoramites had consulted together concerning the words which had been preached unto them, they were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore they would not hearken unto the words.)

Remember, this was a mixed religion–half God, half god(s). Perhaps it was similar to the Taiwanese belief system–Buddhism/ heavenly parents + Daoism/ mysticsim and ritual and other gods + folklore and Earth/ Land God.

Then:
Alma 33:1 Now after Alma had spoken these words, they sent forth unto him desiring to know whether they should believe in one God, that they might obtain this fruit of which he had spoken, or how they should plant the seed, or the word of which he had spoken, which he said must be planted in their hearts; or in what manner they should begin to exercise their faith.

Should they believe in one God, or …? a few gods? a pantheon of gods? a new god, introduced by Zoram, or the Lamanites?

So Alma tells them which god to believe in:
Alma 33:13 Behold, if ye do, ye must believe what Zenos said; for, behold he said: Thou hast turned away thy judgments because of thy Son.
Alma 33:14 Now behold, my brethren, I would ask if ye have read the scriptures? If ye have, how can ye disbelieve on the Son of God?
Alma 33:15 For it is not written that Zenos alone spake of these things, but Zenock also spake of these things–
Alma 33:16 For behold, he said: Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.
Alma 33:17 And now, my brethren, ye see that a second prophet of old has testified of the Son of God, and because the people would not understand his words they stoned him to death.
Alma 33:22 … cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.

This is the crux of this whole problem–Jesus Christ and His atonement don’t lead away from God, as Zoram teaches, but God is directly connected to Jesus Christ, and Christ brings men to God, in unity.

Amulek continues:
Alma 34:5 And we have beheld that the great question which is in your minds is whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ.
Alma 34:6 And ye also beheld that my brother has proved unto you, in many instances, that the word is in Christ unto salvation.
Alma 34:7 My brother has called upon the words of Zenos, that redemption cometh through the Son of God, and also upon the words of Zenock; and also he has appealed unto Moses, to prove that these things are true.

Amulek then speaks a lot about blood sacrifice, perhaps including inferences to sacrifice the Zoramites (or Lamanites) were making in their worship:
Alma 34:10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.
Alma 34:11 Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.
Alma 34:12 But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.
Alma 34:13 Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled…
Alma 34:14 And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.
Alma 34:15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

Is there more about idols? We later find out that Corianton
Alma 39:3: didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.
We learn more about the land here:
Alma 31:3 Now the Zoramites had gathered themselves together in a land which they called Antionum, which was east of the land of Zarahemla, which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which also bordered upon the wilderness south, which wilderness was full of the Lamanites.
Alma knew that Isabel was popular among the Zoramites, and that Corianton was not the only one:
Alma 39:4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many…
So why would a harlot, perhaps named after the great idolator Jezebel in the Old Testament, live in what was in all likelihood a wilderness? And what was so special about her (—even though it’s possible she was just beautiful or such—) that allowed her to “steal away the hearts of many”? If she and the idols were connected, this could have been a grove, where mystical idol rites that included fornication could have been carried out.
(All this reminds me of the cult worship of the Gnostics soon after the death of Jesus Christ, including fornication, both of which the act itself and its physical results were part of worship.)

Alma continues with his counsel:
Alma 39:9 Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things.
Alma 39:11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.

The “lusts of your eyes” could easily be harlots, or it could be even bigger, including spectacle worship plus worship harlots; is it that Alma seems to be stressing Isabel is one of a group of harlots?

Right after that, Alma says:
Alma 39:14 Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you.
This was the other problem that the Zoramites had. It is possible—even likely—that wealth and idol worship and fornication were all tied together in this religion, which made it stronger for the rich, but weaker for the poor. The way I’ve seen idol worship work is, you worship and give offerings, and the god blesses you with riches and guidance, whether it be in a very easy and simple way, or in a deeper yet more unclear way.

More about Gnostic idolatry and sex:
“Followers of the Gnostic sect led by Carpocrates were granted even more license and encouragement. Carpocratians believed that the purity of the soul could not be contaminated and made evil, any more than a pearl could be debased by dropping it in the mud; at its center, the pearl would always remain a pearl. Based on this libertine view, the soul ought to experience everything available to it in this world. Carpocratians shared their sexual partners and took part in massive orgies, although males were instructed to practice coitus interruptus not as a method of birth control but as a means of collecting semen to be consumed as the body of Christ, as was menstrual blood. Recruitment methods of the Carpocratians were basic and no doubt successful in attracting male followers. The most beautiful female members were encouraged to offer themselves as bait to draw adherents, and a related group formed a male elite called Levites who practiced open homosexuality.”
“Should a woman become pregnant as a result of these activities, the fetus would be aborted, pounded to jelly in a mortar, mixed with honey and spices, and eaten by sect members, a practice chillingly reminiscent of the most lurid fables associated with early Christians.” -Secret Societies, by John Lawrence Reynolds. pg. 113

“the first Gnostic revisionists emerge from within the earliest circle of Christians. These were men who wanted for themselves the salvation promised by Christianity but who could affirm neither the physical and literal reality of the astounding events attested to by Scripture and by the Apostles nor the moral humbling required to accept substitutionary atonement as a necessity”(http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9410/satin.html).

“John attributes the ‘spirit of the antichrist’ less to actual unbelievers than to the ‘false prophets’ who arose among the early Christians. These were of a certain ‘spirit’ and are believers, as it were, of a kind: believers in a merely spiritualized (non-fleshly) ‘Christ.’
To all Gnostic redemptive schemes (wherein salvation can be attained through knowledge), atoning sacrifice by another is both meaningless and useless.”(http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9410/satin.html)

  As one might expect of any mystery rite, the Gospel of Philip (NHC II,3: 82,7-26 makes it clear that the mystery of the bride chamber is reserved for the pneumatic members of the Valentinian community alone. The intercourse of bride and bridegroom is private, pure and undefiled; the pneumatic bride may reveal her true nature only to those who may enter the bridal chamber every day: her father, mother, and the friend and sons of the bridegroom. http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm

“other groups rejected such as practice as ineffective and deceptive, transforming the moral indifference typical of its libertine opposite, free sexual exchange, into sacred ritual. According to Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses I, 23.4), the Simonians worship images of Simon Magus and Helen, as well as engage in various occult practices, including exorcisms, incantations, philters, and erotic magic. Hippolytus, (Refutatio VI, 19.5) specifies further specifies that this erotic magic took the form of sexual intercourse as a means of experiencing spiritual union…” (http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm)

According to Epiphanius (Panarion 26.3-12), the later Sethians, whom he calls Borborites, Barbelites, Phibionites, Stratiotici and Coddians, engaged in a thorough-going sexual sacramentalism…  According to Stephen Gero,[50] “the central, distinguishing feature of the sect, its devotion to the so-called sperma cult, described by [Epiphanius] in vivid detail, can hardly be dismissed as a prurient invention. In the simplest of terms it involved the extraction, collection and solemn, sacramental consecration and consumption of bodily fluids, male and female, which contributed to the further propagation of the human race, and thus to the continued entrapment of the divine substance by the evil archons. In these fluids is concentrated the spiritual element, found scattered in the world, in particular in food-stuffs (including meat!), of which the initiates can and should partake. The mythology proper is a version of the Barbelo-gnostic myth, as known from Irenaeus and the Apocryphon of John.” Although Epiphanius does not say that they called this rather unrestrained ritual sex a “mystery” or rite of the bridal chamber, it seems clear that its intent was the same, effecting a restoration of the lost primordial unity by physical coupling and attempting to reverse the natural course of the propagation of the species” (http://jdt.unl.edu/ritual.htm).

Even more about sexual worship rites can be found in the Gnostic Mass (later developed) at http://hermetic.com/egc/mass-analysis.html.

If the Zoramite worshiping by fornication was similar to gnostic worship, it is possible that one man was chosen for the honor of fornicating with the main harlot in the worship ritual, and it seems Corianton got his turn. This might especially be so if he were a virgin, which was likely the case at the time.
As with the Rameumpton, it might have been a perversion of true believer temple rites and worship.

And we understand that Corianton had the same problem the Zoramites had about believing that Christ should come, and what that entailed:
Alma 39:15 And now, my son, I would say somewhat unto you concerning the coming of Christ. Behold, I say unto you, that it is he that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.
Alma 39:16 And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather that salvation might come unto them, that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.
Alma 39:17 And now I will ease your mind somewhat on this subject. Behold, you marvel why these things should be known so long beforehand.
Corianton was to preach salvation through Christ, but worshiped an idol, following the Rameumpton prayer doctrine of the Zoramites.

And the counsel of Alma to his wayward son continues, heading off even more the doctrine of the Zoramites heard in their Rameumpton prayer and idol worship: about disobedience and spiritual death, becoming “carnal, sensual, and devilish” and how that leads to being “miserable”; how that is overcome by the incarnation and atonement of Jesus Christ; salvation and its requirements, especially keeping the commandments.

Perhaps the worship is two-sided because of who they were worshiping. On one hand you have the worship of the heavenly father through prayer on the Rameumptom, especially for the rich; on the other the worship of the heavenly mother through ritual including fornication in the grove. Day to day remembrance—if any—is of the earth god, especially for the lower-class.

While this sounds a little stupid to some, imagine if Lady Gaga had a visitor center where she gave free concerts and indulged a few young men afterwards. Do you think any missionaries might get caught up in that? Right.

“…all these flourished underground during the great ages of the Church, providing a secretive, psychic, human-oriented, polytheistic, and morally relativistic counterpoint to the God-oriented ethical monotheism being carried forward by Christianity… In fact, the Gnostics devolved quickly into the embrace of evil, inevitably the consequence of an “inclusivist” position toward it. Modern “nature” and “goddess” theologies are following the same path” (http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9410/satin.html).
Paul relates a similar adventure with idol worship:
Acts 17:23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you.
24 The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 neither is he served by men`s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined [their] appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us:
28 for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man.
30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:
31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, We will hear thee concerning this yet again.
33 Thus Paul went out from among them.

Idol worship is a good business. Acts attests to it:
Acts 19:22 And having sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
23 And about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way.
24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the craftsmen;
25 whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have our wealth.
26 And ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands:
27 and not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed from her magnificence whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
28 And when they heard this they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesus…

This is what happens with the Zoramites:
Alma 35:3 And it came to pass that after the more popular part of the Zoramites had consulted together concerning the words which had been preached unto them, they were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore they would not hearken unto the words.

And I can attest to it, too, having lived in an idol-worshiping land. There can be lots of money made with idol worship. As Demetrius says, not only do people make money from their crafts, but the whole town/ city benefits from the tourism money, not to mention the pride the inhabitants have of being from there. (There was made with Jehovah worship in the New Testament, too! A big difference is that one is often set up by man for the express purpose of gaining money, while the other is men profiting from something God has set up.)

I guess the main thing about this is, it’s not very clear from surface reading, but there’s a lot in the story of Alma and the Zoramites that makes for a strong case about religion and idols based on history, though there’s nothing I know of that is exactly like it.

It’s beyond most authors’ abilities to put something in all over, but hide it so no one can see it. It’s unlike most of the idol scenes in the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament), where the big picture is clear, but the little pictures might not be there; here, it’s the little pictures that are clear, while the big picture doesn’t seem to exist. I believe there’s still more to be found.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: