Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Humanizing Tone and Wilderness Experience in the Book of Mormon

Critics of the Book of Mormon often claim that book came about from a single writer, Joseph Smith. As I have spent time reading the book as a I would any literary work, I've come to realize that each separate writer in the book has a noticeably distinct voice and style. I've focused my study on a few examples of BOM prophets who's tone and voice are the product of their own specific life experiences and their separate but specific purposes.

Nephi is a young man. His father led his family from the city where they grew up and took them on a journey towards a new land where they could thrive and be protected from persecution. While his brothers understandably struggle with leaving their lives behind, Nephi stayed firm and loyal to his father and to God. When his father passes away in the wilderness, Nephi feels the pain that we all have felt upon the loss of a loved one. In what is known as the psalm of Nephi, we see his raw feelings of pain caused by the loss of his father, the reality of his imperfect state as a human being, and joy that comes from the knowledge of a divine purpose to life. Nephi exlaims, "My God hath been my support; he hast led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness." Nephi's purpose is to help his readers be loyal to God so that we too can find strength in difficult times as we pass through our own afflictions in the wilderness.

Moroni is the last writer in the BOM. His people were slaughtered by his enemies and he is left alone to make the journey to bury the writings those before him to be recovered in the latter days by Joseph Smith. Finding himself in complete solitude and knowing that there will be many different audiences reading his work, he writes that people will one day "mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing." Moroni is aware of his human weaknesses and acknowledges that he is not "mighty in writing." Anyone who writes can relate to this fear, but Moroni pushes through this human feeling of inadequacy to write what he considers to be important for future generations to read.

These human feelings of inadequacy, pain, and rejoicing are central to the purpose and relatable elements of the BOM that bind each of the writers' entries together.

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