FAIR Study Aids/Gospel Doctrine/Book of Mormon/Lesson Four

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A FairMormon Analysis of:
Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual

Lesson 4: "The Things Which I Saw While I Was Carried Away in the Spirit"

LDS Lesson Manual

Lesson 4: The Things Which I Saw While I Was Carried Away in the Spirit: off-site

1. Nephi sees the future of his descendants and his brothers’ descendants (1 Nephi 12)

Helpful Insights


Concept related to the lesson topic:
Mormon's Abridgment follows the structural pattern of Nephi's prophecy, thus demonstrating its fulfillment.

Additional information

  • Steven L. Olsen, "Prophecy and History: Structuring the Abridgment of the Nephite Records," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 15/1 (2006): 18–29. off-site wiki

Potential Criticisms and Faithful Information


Common criticisms related to this lesson topic
Population Sizes: Nephi reports in this vision that both his seed and the seed of his brethren become large "multitudes." Some have challenged the feasibility of this on demographic grounds. Source(s)
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Demographer James E. Smith has shown that the Book of Mormon demographics are not unreasonable. |link=

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Common criticisms related to this lesson topic
DNA: Some argue that if Nephi and his brothers had such numerous seed, then we should be able to find their DNA. Source(s)
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The situation is much more complicated, and there are a number of issues related the Book of Mormon and DNA. |link=

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Common criticisms related to this lesson topic
Nephi describes the seed of his brothers as becoming "dark", one of many passages that lead critics to claim the Book of Mormon is "racist." Source(s)
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It is likely that "dark" means something besides skin color. |link=

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Faith Affirmations

  • 1 Nephi 12:9 is an example of a common ancient syntactic device use in the Old Testament called "enallage."[1]

2. Nephi sees the formation of the great and abominable church, the colonization of the Americas, the Apostasy, and the Restoration of the gospel (1 Nephi 13)

Helpful Insights


Concept related to the lesson topic:
The prophecies here play a major role in Nephi's understanding of God's involvement in history.

Additional information

  • Roy A. Prete, "God in History? Nephi's Answer," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/2 (2005): 26–37. off-site wiki

Concept related to the lesson topic:
Nephi's "great and abominable church" seems to be the same thing as John's "mother of harlots" and Babylon. Comparing the common elements in the Book of Revelation and in Nephi's prophecy can provide some interesting insights.

Additional information

  • Stephen E. Robinson, "Nephi's "Great and Abominable Church," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 32–39. off-site wiki

Concept related to the lesson topic:
Nephi prophesies that plain and precious parts of the gospel would be lost in a three step process which involved more than just the editing of the biblical manuscripts.

Additional information

Potential Criticisms and Faithful Information


Common criticisms related to this lesson topic
Critics, particularly critics of other faiths, take offense to the references of "great and abominable church", "church of the devil", and "whore of all the earth", thinking this refers to them or other specific churches. Source(s)
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There is no official position establishing it as any specific organization. These labels are best understood as reference to any group or organization that opposes the people of God. |link=

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Common criticisms related to this lesson topic
Nephi's prophecy about the Bible's transmission leads to a number of conflict points between Latter-day Saints and other Christians who insist on the inerrancy of the Bible. Source(s)
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Common criticisms related to this lesson topic
The great apostasy is another issue that has several points of conflict, which Nephi's prophecy may elicit. Source(s)
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Faith Affirmations

  • Nephi says that many plain and precious things were removed from the biblical record. John Gee shows how early Christian documents and the biblical manuscripts provide evidence of that process.[2]
  • 1 Nephi 13:12 mentions a man commonly understood as Columbus, and suggests that he found the promised land by inspiration. Columbus himself seemed to understand his mission as being inspired by God. (See Grant R. Hardy, "Columbus: By Faith or Reason?," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992).

3. Nephi sees the blessings promised to the faithful; he also sees the destruction of the great and abominable church (1 Nephi 14)

Helpful Insights

Potential Criticisms and Faithful Information

Faith Affirmations

Additional Information Related to 1 Nephi 12-14

  • Nephi's vision is brought on by a desire to understand the interpretation of his father's dream. As such, Nephi patterns his prophecy after Lehi's dream, showing the sweep of human history to be an unfolding of Lehi's archtypal dream.[3]

Chiasms and Other Poetic Parallelisms in 1 Nephi 12-14

The Book of Mormon contains a number of literary structures called poetic parallelisms, chiasmus being the best known. While these are frequently used as evidence for the Book of Mormon’s authenticity, their real value is in helping shed light on the meaning and message in the text. The following passages contain examples of these structures from chapters being covered in this lesson. If you are planning on using any of these passages in your lesson, it may be worthwhile to check these structures to see if they help emphasize or focus attention on the message you hope to convey, or if they provide an alternative perspective you had not considered before which may enhance your lesson. For the sake of space, the references can only be listed here. To look at these structures, see Donald W. Perry, Poetic Parallelisms: The Complete Text Reformatted, which is graciously provided online for no charge (you have to go to the PDF file) by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute.

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