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

Table of Contents


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

Lesson 14: For a Wise Purpose

Lesson #14- Sunday School Manual: “For a Wise Purpose”

1. Enos prays for himself, the Nephites, and the Lamanites.(Enos)

Helpful Insights

  • Enos's "Wrestle..before God": When Enos tells about his "wrestle...before God" (Enos 1:2) he may be making allusion to the patriarch Jacob's "wrestle" with an angel. There are several parallel's in the two stories, suggesting that Enos patterned his narrative after that of Jacob's.
  • Lamanite Threats to Destroy Records and Traditions: Enos says that efforts to convert the Lamanites were unsuccessful and that the Lamanites were determined to destroy the Nephites records and traditions (Enos 1:14). The "traditions" that the Lamanites sought to destroy were probably the traditions that Nephi's leadership was legitmate and Laman's was not. In Mesoamerican society, there were records that documented the lineages right to land and leadership, so these traditions and records are probably both related to claims of leadership. Lamanites wanted to discredit the Nephite claims to legitimacy.
    • Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3, pg. 13

Potential Criticisms

  • Tents in Mesoamerica: If Mesoamerica is the setting of the Book of Mormon, some claim that "tents" (Enos 1:20) are an anachronism. However there were various types of temporary living structures employed by the Natives that the Spanish termed "tents." Temporary dwelling places ("tents") of one form or another are known in every culture, so it is a wonder that critics would think that they didn't exist in Mesoamerica.
  • Alleged Anachronisms: A number of alleged anachronisms, most of which have been previously mentioned, come up again in Enos, such as horses, as well as cimeters and other weapons. Although these have been mentioned before, the recurrence of these items in the text may prompt questions from class members, so we again provide resources for review.
  • Chronology Problems: Enos is generally assumed to be the son of Jacob, though he never identifies his father by name. Jacob does say he gave the plates to his "son Enos" (Jacob 7:27). Enos, however, indicates that it had been 179 years since the time Lehi had left Jerusalem, which seems far too long for just one generation after original settlers (remember, Jacob was born in the Old World), so this presents a potential problem. John W. Welch has proposed a chronology that potentially reconciles this problem, while others have suggested that Enos may not be the direct son of Jacob. In the latter scenario, it is possible that the Enos of who wrote the book of Enos is the son of the first Enos, who was Jacob's son, or that the "son" is simply meant as "descendant", an interpretation consistent with Hebrew usage.

Faith Affirmations

  • Enos's Name and Introduction: The opening verses of Enos appear to be patterned after the colophon in 1 Nephi 1, but this isn't just Joseph Smith lacking creativity and thus repeating this pattern. The name "Enos" is a poetic Hebrew term for "man, mankind" which indicates that Enos is probably using a Hebrew style wordplay when he says "I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man" (Enos 1:1), much like the wordplay on the name "Nephi" and "goodly." It is doubtful that Joseph Smith could have embedded these wordplays intentionally, thus this serves as evidence of the books genuine antiquity.

2. The Nephites prosper through continual repentance. (Jarom)

Helpful Insights

  • Jarom's Role in Nephite Society: Most readers probably assume that Jarom was one of the priests or prophets, like his father (Enos) and grandfather (Jacob). But John S. Tanner has observed that Jarom always speaks of priests, teachers, kings, and leaders "as if he were not one of them," "bystander outside the loop of government power and official church responsibility." But he uses inclusive terms when talking about going to war and working with metals. Tanner concludes, "Jarom sounds as if he was a solider and artisan." Jarom does speak of "revelations" and "prophesying" (Jarom 1:2), but these may have been personal, or perhaps only for his family.
  • "Love of Murder" and Drinking Blood: Jarom reports that the Lamanites loved murder and drinking the blood of beasts (Jarom 1:6). Jarom may have had the practices of killing captives and religious human sacrifice. In denouncing the drinking of blood of beasts he is probably alluding to a violation of the law of Moses.
    • Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness, Vol. 3, pg. 29-30.

Potential Criticisms

Faithful Affirmations

  • Population Expansion and Wars: Jarom describes both an expansion of population, and an increase of military conflicts. Based on a Mesoamerican setting, increasing political alliances would result in both of these conditions. Jarom also describes the kings and leaders as personally engaging in battle, which is also consistent with Mesoamerican cultural practices. Gardner says "Jarom is accurately portraying both the social conditions and the military actions known to have prevailed among the Maya." (pg. 30)
    • Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness, Vol. 3, pg. 30-31.
  • Fortifications: Jarom says that they "began to fortify their cities." Until recently, Mesoamerica was believed to have been peaceful during this time, but now evidence shows there was considerable warfare. The number of known defensive structures begins to proliferate between 400 BC - 50 BC, a period which encompasses Jarom's lifetime.
  • Jarom: The name Jarom may be the name "Jeremiah" in hypocoristic form (a sort of shot form, like Mike from Michael).

3. Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki keep the records.(Omni)

Helpful Insights

Potential Criticisms

Faithful Affirmations

4. Mormon adds the small plates of Nephi to his abridgment of the large plates. (Words of Mormon)