Religion A 121: Introduction to The Book of Mormon
(1 Nephi through Alma 29)
Course Description: Rel 121 is a sequential study of the doctrines, principles, and narrative of the Book of Mormon, which demands our attention both as scripture and as an ancient text. As "the most correct book," particularly regarding matters of faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will study it both as another witness of the Savior and as a source for the foundational doctrines regarding the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation. As a text, we will work to appreciate the literary artistry of its authors and abridgers, identifying its structures, imagery, and themes. Above all, this paramount book of scripture will be studied as a testament of the Lord Jesus Christ with the intent to understand his divine mission more fully and to understand and appreciate the Atonement.
This section of Rel 121 has three major objectives
- First, to increase the student’s knowledge of the Book of Mormon—that is, to familiarize him or her with the basic storylines, characters, and concepts in this book of scripture.
- Second, to help the student read, discuss, and write about the Book of Mormon as both a source of scriptural knowledge and as a sacred text by asking basic historical, literary, and theological questions (a process known as "exegesis").
- Third, to strengthen individual testimonies of sacred truths, particularly of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the Restoration.
Class discussions, quizzes, and exams will all be formatted with these three overarching objectives in mind
Links and Bookmarks
- Book of Mormon Outlines: (showing some possible structures for the books and noting, where possible, the original source and audience of a passage, the genre or source, and its editor)
- Instructions for writing an exegetical paper; excerpts from Gorman, Elements of Biblical Exegesis; suggestions for Exegetical Papers (from some Rel 121H e-correspondence) [for Rel 121H section 208 only]
- Gospel outlines (Click here for PRINTABLE PDF Outlines) (structural analysis of all four gospels, broken down into sections and pericopes)
- Elder David A. Bednar, In the Strength of the Lord."
- Consider Huntsman's accompanying graphic, The Atonement and Grace: The Healing, Saving, and Enabling Power of Christ"
- Other Book of Mormon Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions about Religious Education at BYU (credits, requirements, etc.): http://religion.byu.edu/students.htm
- Ancient America Foundation (AAF): http://www.ancientamerica.org/
- Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum: http://www.bmaf.org/
- Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
- Jeanette W. Miller, "The Tree of Life, a Personification of Christ"
- John L. Sorenson, "When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?"
- D. Jeffrey Meldrum, Trent D. Stephens, "Who Are the Children of Lehi?"
Lecture Outlines and Presentations
- 1. Course Introduction. Title Page of the Book of Mormon:
Course Description and Objectives. Genre Questions: What is the Book of Mormon? First and Second Witnesses: The Bible and The Book of Mormon. The "Title" Page Revisited: the Stated Purposes of the Book of Mormon. Book of Mormon Peoples. Covenants in the Book of Mormon. Book of Mormon Christology—the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Course Requirements and Grading (read syllabus carefully!). Suggestions for Class Preparation.
- After class review: Title Page; Testimonies of the Three Witnesses, Eight Witnesses, and Joseph Smith; A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon
- For further reference: Stathearn, Nyman, and Easton (packet, 8–12, 14–16, 38); "Genre Questions: What Kind of Writing Is this Passage?" (Packet, 33).
- 2. Studying and Interpreting the Book of Mormon. Reading Strategies: Approaches to Scriptural Texts. Read in Sections and Outline. "Interpreting" the Book of Mormon: Hermeneutics, Exegesis, and Exposition. The Exegetical Process: Asking historical, literary, and theological questions of a text. Book of Mormon Sources. Literary Aspects of the Book of Mormon. Structure and Genre. Theological Questions. Supplement: Principles and Doctrine in Gospel Teaching.
- Reading: Strathearn, "Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ," "Genre Questions," and Rust, "Book of Mormon as Literature" (packet, 23–25, 33, 35–38); Welch and Welch, charts 13, 16–18; Huntsman, "Teaching through Exegesis: Helping Students Ask Questions of the Text" (handout and online; Religious Educator 6.1 , 107–126), "Outlining" (handout)
- For Further Background: selection from the introductory chapter of Rust, 1–16 (fair-use excerpt posted on the web page and/or Blackboard).
- Rust, Feasting Upon the Word, 1–16. Huntsman, Teaching through Exegesis: Helping Students Ask Questions of the Text" (handout; Religious Educator 6.1 , 107–126), and "Outlining" (handout). For Further Background: selection from the introductory chapter of Rust, 1–16 (fair-use excerpt posted on the web page and Rust, 1–16 or Blackboard).
Unit 1: (1 Nephi)
- 3. Nephi’s Records. 1 Nephi, Introduction. Lehi in Jerusalem. Nature, types, and purposes of Nephi’s records: 1 Ne 1:1–4, 16–17; 6:1–6; 9:1–6; 19:1–7a; 2 Ne 5:28–34. Historical context, Josiah, Zedekiah, and the Lord’s covenant with Israel; Lehi’s call and ministry: 1 Ne 1:4–20; 2 Kings 22:1–23:3; Deut. 6:1–19, 28:1–68, and 30:1–10; 2 Kings 23:21–24:20. See also: 1 Nephi Overview; Brown, "Nephi, First Book of"; Parker quotes; Book of Mormon Plates and Records (packet, 51–54; Welch and Welch, chart 13).
- 4. Into the Wilderness. The Exodus of the family of Lehi; mission for the Brass Plates and the problem of the slaying of Laban; Ishmael’s family joins the expedition: 1 Ne 2:1–7:22. See also: Parker quotes; Brown, "The Exodus Pattern"; Contents of the Brass Plates; 1 Nephi and the Exodus; When Is It Better for One Man to Perish? (packet, 69–76; Welch and Welch, charts 14, 94, and 115). Elder David Bednar, The Strength of the Lord"
- 5. The Tree of Life. Lehi’s dream; Lehi prophesies of the Messiah and the House of Israel; the beginning of Nephi’s Apocalypse; the Condescension: 1 Ne 8–11. See also: Parker quotes; Jackson, "The Tree of Life and the Ministry of Christ"; The Ways of Life and Death: Lehi and Nephi; A Comparison of Lehi’s Dream and Nephi’s Vision (packet, 83–87, 99; Welch and Welch, charts 67 and 92).
- 6. Visions of the Future. Nephi’s Apocalypse continued; Jesus Christ’s first coming in the New World; "the Great and Abominable"; the Lehi Covenant; Gentiles and the Promised Land; sacred records and "plain and precious" parts; final visions: 1 Ne 12–14. See also: Parker quotes; Parsons, "The Great and Abominable Church"; Robinson, "Warring Against the Saints of God"; Millet, "Plain and Precious Truths Taken"; Contents of the Plates of Brass (packet, 89–96, 99–106; Welch and Welch, chart 14). Take-home quiz #1 distributed.
- Quiz 1 Materials
- Review 1a
- Review also Notable Passage Lists in Packet, section 13
- 7. The Journey Resumed. Visions of the Future Continued: Nephi teaches his brothers. 8 years traveling in the wilderness; the Land Bountiful; building a ship; rebellion on the sea; in the Promised Land: 1 Ne 15:2–18:25. See also: Parker quotes. Take-home quiz #1 due. Revised 9/21/05 Also, since much of class will be spent viewing segments of the DVD documentary "Journey of Faith," be certain to review this presentation carefully on your own.
- 8. Nephi’s First Quotation and Interpretation of Isaiah. Prophecies of Christ: Setting the Stage for Isaiah. Isaiah the Man and Isaiah the Book. The Formula Quotation Pattern. Isaiah 48: God and Israel. Isaiah 49: God and "The Suffering Servant," the Redemption of Israel. Scattering and Gathering, Spiritual and Temporal. The Wrath of God. Conclusion of 1 Nephi: Lehi, Nephi, and the Brass Plates. 1 Ne 19:1–22:28. See also: Parker quotes; Millet, "The Gathering of Israel in the Book of Mormon"; Packer, "Things of My Soul"; Isaiah in the Book of Mormon; Ball, "Isaiah, Life and Ministry"; Interpreting Isaiah in 1 Nephi 20–21; Four Stages of the Nephite Prophetic View (packet, 107–114; 321, 333; Welch and Welch, chart 99).
- Exam 1 Materials
- Review 1b
- Notable Passages List 1b in Packet, section 13
- Revised outline of 1 Nephi
- 9. 2 Nephi, Introduction. Lehi’s Final Teachings I. Lehi’s prophecy; exhortation and blessings to his sons; words to Jacob on opposition; the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement; choosing liberty and eternal life: 2 Ne 1–2; 2 Kings 25:1–12. See also: 2 Nephi Overview; Nyman, "Nephi, Second Book of"; Parker quotes; McConkie, "The Three Pillars of Eternity"; Garrard, "Creation, Fall, and Atonement (packet, 123–24, 145–150, 155–164).
- 10. Lehi's final Teachings II. Complete Creation, Fall, and Atonement. Words to Joseph on the promises made to Joseph in Egypt; final blessings; death of Lehi; the Psalm of Nephi: 2 Ne 3–4. See also: Parker quotes; Prophetic Lineages Prophesied by Joseph in Egypt (packet, 167).
- 11. Jacob’s Discourse I. Division of Lehi’s descendants. Jacob’s Quotation of Isaiah 50:1–52:2. Jacob’s introduction: Scattering and gathering of Israel dependant upon the acceptance or rejection of her Redeemer. An Impenitent Nation and a Willing Servant; God Is Able to Save Those Who Come to Him; Let Zion Rejoice. 2 Ne 5–8. See also: Parker quotes; Robinson, "Believing Christ: A Practical Approach to the Atonement"; Millet, "Redemption through the Holy Messiah"; Ludlow, "Isaiah, Purposes for Quoting" and "Isaiah in the Book of Mormon"; Interpretive Keys 2 Nephi 7–8; Jacob’s Ten Woes and the Ten Commandments (packet, 169–186, 321–23, 334; Welch and Welch, chart 120),
- 12a. Jacob’s Discourse I. End of the First Day—Gathering and Scattering, Corporate and Individual; the Second Day Sermon—The Plan Applied to Jacob’s People; Jacob’s Explanation on Gathering and the Plan of Salvation; Reconcile Yourself to God—only in and Through Grace Are We Saved. 2 Ne 9–10.
- 12b. Nephi's Discourse I. Nephi’s Formula Quote Introduction: Witnesses of Christ, including Isaiah; a few Isaiah Quotations: Contrasts between Future and Present Israel—The Mountain of the Lord’s House and the Day of the Lord; Judgments against Judah; The Remnant and Jerusalem Will Be Restored; Judgment and Exile—the Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard. 2 Ne 11–15. See also: Parker quotes; McConkie, "Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah"; maps, Working through the Isaiah Chapters, and Interpretive Keys 2 Nephi 12–24 (packet, 325–332, 338–340).
- 13. Nephi's Discourse II. Isaiah quotations continued: Isaiah’s First Vision; Prophecies Occasioned by Geopolitical Threats against Judah (and their application to the Nephite-Lamanite conflicts); Signs of Deliverance; Coming Destructions, Including the Sign of Maher-shalal-hashbaz; The Choice—The Prince of Peace or Promises of Destruction; Assyria and Israel; The Rod of the Stem of Jesse; Conditions during the Millennium under Messiah’s Rule; The Gathering of All Israel; God Is Israel’s Salvation; Judgments against the Nations. 2 Ne 16–24. See also: Parker quotes. Isaiah analysis first draft due.
- 14. Nephi's Discourse III. Nephi’s Explanations, Interpretations, and Prophecies: Message to the Jews; Name-title "Jesus Christ, the Song of God" Revealed; Message to Lehi’s Descendants; Christ and the Book of Mormon; Saved by Grace . . .; Christ and the Law of Moses; Christ and the Nephites; Message to the Gentiles and the Latter-days; Midrash of Isaiah 29 and the Sealed Book; Wickedness in the Last Days; the Book of Mormon and Other Scripture; the Final Gathering. 2 Ne 25–30. Grant Hardy, "2 Nephi 26 and 27 as Midrash." See also: Parker quotes; Five Keys to Understanding Isaiah (Welch and Welch, chart 84).
- 15. Nephi's Final Teachings. The Doctrine of Christ; Following Christ through Baptism; the Gift and Gifts of the Holy Ghost; the Baptism by Fire and Sanctification; Pressing Forward in Christ; Feasting on the Words of Christ and Speaking with the Tongues of Angels; Guidance of the Spirit; Nephi’s Concluding Testimony: 2 Ne 31–33. See also: Parker quotes. Take-home quiz #2 distributed.
- Quiz 2 Materials
- Review 2a (lectures 9–15)
- Review also Notable Passages Lists in packet, section 13
- Hard-copy of Quiz 2
- 16. Jacob, Introduction. Jacob’s Sermon at the Temple. The Book of Jacob—Authorship, Audience(s), and Structure. Jacob’s Mission and Responsibility. Jacob’s Sermon at the Temple: Pride and the Danger of Riches; The Growing Problem of Sexual Immorality among the Nephites; The Law of Chastity; Conclusion—Consolation and Condemnation. Jacob 1–3. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Personal Purity," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 75ff (online). See also: Jacob Overview; Tanner, "Jacob, Book of"; Parker quotes (packet, 191–92) Take-home quiz #2 due.
- 17. Discourse on God’s Relationship with Israel. Encounter with Sherem. Jacob’s Farewell. Prophets and Prophecy. Zenos’ Allegory of the Olive Tree Time Periods and Peoples Suggested; Jacob’s Application of the Allegory. Characteristics of One Type of Antichrist. Jacob’s Melancholy Reflections; His Final Salutation. Jacob 4–7. See also: Parker quotes; The Allegory of the Olive Tree (packet,199; Welch and Welch, chart 81). Isaiah analysis final draft due.
- 18. Enos–Words of Mormon. Enos’ Conversion and the Fruits of Repentance: Enos. The Lesson of Jarom verification of prophetic promises: Jarom. Amaleki’s Message: realization of prophetic warning: Omni. The End of the Small Plates—purpose of the record, Mormon’s bridge, Mosiah1 and Benjamin: Words of Mormon. See also: Overviews; Largey, "Enos, Book of"; "‘Applying’ the Book of Enos"; Tate, "Jarom, Book of"; Thomas, "Omni, Book of" and "Words of Mormon"; Parker quotes; Book of Mormon Plates and Records; Nephite Books (packet, 205, 215–17; Welch and Welch, charts 13 and 25).
- Exam 2 Materials
- Review 2b (lectures 9–18)
- Review Notable Passages List in packet, section 13
- 19. Mosiah, Introduction. King Benjamin’s Speech. Book of Mosiah—Historical and Literary Questions. End of King Benjamin’s Reign. Benjamin’s Farewell Address—His Stewardship; the Birth, Ministry, Suffering, and Crucifixion of Christ. The Fall and the Atonement—the Natural Man. Mosiah 1–3. See also: Mosiah Overview; Brown, "Mosiah, Book of"; Parker quotes; Turner, "The Great Conversion"; The Process of Repentance; The Ways of Life and Death: Benjamin; Overviews of Benjamin’s Speech and Benjamin’s Themes; Chiasmus in Mosiah 3 and 5 (packet, 231–32, 253–266; Welch and Welch, charts 69, 87–91, 130–131).
- 20a. Benjamin’s Sermon continued. Obtaining and Retaining a Remission of Sins; Becoming Children of Christ Through the Covenant. Mosiah 4–6.
- 20b. The People of Zeniff and Noah in the Land of Nephi. Expedition of Ammon1 (the scout); the Record of Zeniff; the wicked reign of King Noah; Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. Abinadi’s first mission: Mosiah 7–11. See also: Parker quotes; Lands of Nephi and Zarahemla; Flashbacks in the Book of Mosiah (Welch and Welch, chart 29).
- 21. The Trial and Discourse of Abinadi. Abinadi’s Second Mission, Arrest, and Trial; Abinadi Teaches of Christ: How He Is the Father and the Son; Abinadi Executed; Alma1 Converted: Mosiah 12–17. See also: Parker quotes; Order of Resurrection; Christ as the Father and the Son, etc.; Lands of Nephi, Helam, and Zarahemla; The Ways of Life and Death: Abinadi (packet, 270–74; Welch and Welch, chart 70).
- 22. Contrasting Affairs in the Lands of Nephi and Helam. The Waters of Mormon: Alma1 Forms a Church in the Wilderness; Baptism and Baptismal Covenants; the Church Flees to Helam; the Lamanite Invasion and the Revolt Against Noah; Unequal Peace with the Lamanites; Ammon1 Leads Limhi’s People to Zarahemla; Alma1 and the Church in Helam, Their Miraculous Delivery: Mosiah 18–24. See also: Parker quotes, Timelines of Events and Lands of Nephi, Helam, and Zarahemla II (packet, 276–77). Exegetical Paper first draft due.
- 23. Mosiah’s Reign in Zarahemla. The Gathering of the Peoples of Zarahemla, Limhi, and Alma1 with the Nephites under Mosiah2; the Church Established Throughout Zarahemla; Persecution Within and Apostasy Without; Conversion of Alma2 and the Sons of Mosiah; Being Born of the Spirit; Abolition of Kingship: Mosiah 25–29. See also: Parker quotes.
- 24. Alma, Introduction. Early Challenges to the Reign of the Judges. The rule of law among the Nephites; religious and philosophical challenges, Nehor, an antichrist; political challenges, Amlici and the monarchists: Alma 1–3. See also: Alma Overview; Arnold, "Alma, Book of"; Parker quotes; Alma as Chief Judge (packet, 287–88; Welch and Welch, chart 34).
- 25. Alma and the Nephite Reformation I. Alma2 resigns the judgeship; missions to Zarahemla, Gideon, and Melek; being born of God, prophecies of Christ; beginning of the mission to Ammonihah: Alma 4–8. See also: Parker quotes; Skinner, "Alma’s ‘Pure Testimony’"; Bearing Pure Testimony; Alma as High Priest (packet, 305–313; Welch and Welch, chart 35).
- Quiz 3 Materials
- Review 3a
- Hard-copy Quiz 3
- 26. Alma and the Nephite Reformation II. Sermons at Ammonihah; accountability; the conversion of Amulek; dispute with Zeezrom; resurrection, judgement, and the plan of redemption; priesthood and foreordination; the delivery of Alma and Amulek; mission to Sidom and renewed Lamanite war: Alma 9–16. See also: Parker quotes; The Ways of Life and Death: Composite (Welch and Welch, chart 76). Exegetical Paper final draft due. Take-home quiz #3 distributed.
- 27. Lamanite Missions of the Sons of Mosiah2. Ammon2 and the conversion of King Lamoni; Aaron and the conversion of Lamoni’s father, "I will give away all my sins to know thee . . ."; the Anti-Nephi-Lehies: Alma 17–23. See also: Parker quotes; Flashbacks in the Book of Alma (Welch and Welch, chart 30). Take-home quiz #3 due.
- 28. Results of the Lamanite Conversions. Persecution of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies; Ammon2 "glories in the Lord"; another Lamanite-Nephite War; the Song of Alma: Alma 24–29. See also: Parker quotes.
- Exam 3
- 29. A Book of Mormon Christmas
- Isaiah in the Book of Mormon (including this class' interpretative approach)***
- Interpreting Isaiah: Helpful charts illustrating the patterns of scatterings and gathering and how they are dependent upon Israel's keeping or breaking of covenants and rejection or acceptance of the Messiah new
- Isaiah outline
- McConkie, Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah (1973)
Announcements and Upcoming Events
September 12: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, Denver
August 18-21 “Worship: Encountering and Being Transformed by God,” BYU Education Week
August 17 “LDS Christology and the Gospel of John,” BYU Education Week
August 5-11 Aspen Grove Family Camp
April 22: “Grateful for Grace: Appreciating the Saving and Transforming Power of Jesus Christ,” YSA 18th Stake Fireside
April 30: Womens Conference 2015 "Wells of Trust Fanning Flames of Faith"
May 8–9: “The Search for the ‘Real’ Jesus of Nazareth: The Jesus of Faith, History, and Revelation,” Miller-Eccles Study Group, Fullerton and La Cañada, California
September 24 Second John A. Widtsoe Symposium, “Religion in the Public Square,” 7:00-9:00, tutor Center Ballroom, USC, Los Angeles (with the following link:
October 9 “The Footsteps of Jesus: Remembering His Miracles,” Cruise Lady Learn Our Religion Series, 7:00, 9118 S Redwood, West Jordan
November 8: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, St. George
November 14: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, Portland